New laws introduced at the beginning of the month state that Irish drivers caught texting or accessing information on their phones will get a 1000 euro ($1465) fine for their first offence and a mandatory court summons. A second offence attracts a 2000 euro ($2930) fine and the possibility of three months behind bars.
The new rules cover phones paired to hands-free kits and those sitting in cradles, meaning the only legal way to operate a phone while driving in Ireland is by using voice control.
The penalty increase means texting while driving is now deemed as serious an offence as drink driving in Ireland, and makes the country’s laws among the harshest in the world.
Previously there was no specific law against texting while driving in Ireland. The offence, deemed driving without due care, cost drivers 60 euros ($88) and two demerit points.
Australian penalties for the crime are not nearly as extreme. In New South Wales, the penalty for using a phone while driving is a $304 fine and three demerit points, or $405 and four points in a school zone. Victoria's laws are slightly harsher, with four demerit points and a $433 fine.