Is it legal to hang things from your rear-view mirror?

Personalising your vehicle is part of the fun of being a car owner, but could it get you into trouble? We find out.

After spending your hard-earned money on a car, decorating it to your individual taste is almost a rite of passage.

Whether it’s changing the colour, adding a personalised licence plate, a witty bumper sticker or a unique air freshener hanging on the rear-view mirror, there are numerous ways for your car to express your personality.

But could adorning your rear-view mirror potentially land you a fine for obstructed view or potential distraction? And is it actually even legal to hang air fresheners, fluffy dice, stuffed animals or rosaries from your rear-view mirror?

We posed this question to various state road authorities to find out.

Yes, it's legal to hang something from your rear-view mirror – as long as it does not obstruct the driver's view of the road or any oncoming traffic from any angle, and it does not distract the driver.

However, proceed with caution because if the accessory attached to your mirror is found to be obstructing your view or distracting you from the road in any way, you could face significant penalties in every Australian state and territory.

While there are no state-specific provisions for items hanging on drivers’ rear-view mirrors, road authorities have advised drivers to prioritise a clear view of the road and to be vigilant and attentive when driving.

A New South Wales Department of Transport spokesperson told Drive that while there are no specific road rules on the legality of having items hanging from drivers’ rear-view mirrors, items that obstruct the driver's clear view of the road are considered a fineable offence.

A Department of Transport and Planning Victoria spokesperson echoed a similar sentiment and warned Victorian drivers of the risks associated with distracted driving. 

“Having any equipment or accessories obstruct your view while driving puts not only your life at risk but the lives of others on the road,” they said. 

In NSW, driving without a clear view of the road can result in a $349 fine and the loss of three demerit points. In Victoria, it is $288 and a maximum court penalty of $962. 

A Department of Transport and Main Roads Queensland spokesperson concurred and warned that Queensland drivers caught driving with an obstructed view could be hit with a $361 on-the-spot fine.

A spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure and Transport in South Australia agreed and urged South Australian road users to be aware and to drive with due care and attention. 

In SA, driving without a clear view can result in a $215 fine, or a maximum penalty of $2500 for drivers that fail to follow due care and attention. 

An ACT police spokesperson advised ACT road users to be aware that any breach of driver impairment or distraction laws “would allow officers to issue a traffic infringement notice”. 

In the ACT, failure to adhere to this road rule can result in a maximum of 20 penalty units valued at $3200. 

A Western Australia Road Safety Commission spokesperson referred Drive and its WA drivers to Road Traffic Code 2000.

The code states that “a driver must not drive a vehicle unless he or she can obtain a full and uninterrupted view of the road and any traffic ahead and on each side of him and her”. 

In WA, a breach of this road rule can result in a fine of two penalty units totalling $100. 

A Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Tasmania spokesperson pointed Drive and Tasmanian drivers to section 297 (2) of Tasmania Road Rules 2019, which states drivers must not drive a motor vehicle unless they have a clear view of the road and traffic on all sides of the driver.

In Tasmania, the penalty for breaching this road rule can result in a fine of $195.

A Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson told Drive: "In the end it would come down to driving in an unsafe motor vehicle, if the item hanging from your mirror was large enough to obstruct your view or be a hazard to another driver."

In the NT, the fine for driving an unsafe vehicle or having an obstructed view is $140.

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