Riverina Police District has clarified the coronavirus social distancing rules around learner drivers after a teenage girl was fined in Victoria for leaving her house to drive with her mother.
Hunter Reynolds, aged 17, was learning to drive in wet conditions with her mother as the passenger when a police officer pulled them over on the weekend in Melbourne.
The teenager has been given a $1652 on-the-spot fine for breaching Victoria's stage three restrictions, but the pair plan to challenge it in court.
Following widespread national attention on the case, Riverina Police District posted an update on Facebook on Monday night stating officers had "received a number of inquiries in relation to taking learner drivers for lessons".
"Whilst an infringement has been issued in Victoria, the circumstances are viewed differently in NSW" the police district posted on Facebook, along with a statement from NSW Police.
The police statement said a "reasonable excuse" for leaving home during the current public health order included "travelling for the purposes of work where you cannot work from home, so driving instructors can leave their house for their work - to teach people how to drive"
"We consider that it would be a reasonable excuse for a person to leave their house to receive driving lessons (either from a driving instructor or a member of their family), given that this is a learning activity that cannot be done from home and is akin to the listed reasonable excuse of travelling to attend an educational institution where you cannot learn from home," the police statement said.
"Learner drivers could also continue to drive with a supervising family member for any of the listed reasonable excuses for leaving the house - for example, driving to the supermarket."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Driving instructors across Wagga have also seen a drop in bookings, according to Roadcraft Driving instructor Paul Dawson.
"Two weeks ago today, RMS shut down their driver testing, so kids can have their hours but not go for their licence which means a lot of places have stopped doing lessons because people aren't focusing on that right now," he said.
"However, we are allowed to if we wish."
Victoria's chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton has told 3AW that the fine handed down to Ms Reynolds was justified and driving lessons were "not an essential activity".
Victorian Liberal opposition leader Michael O'Brien has criticised the policy to fine L-plate drivers.
"So driving instructors are allowed to work. And families can exercise together and shop together. But a mum can't supervise her L-plate daughter's driving?" he stated on social media.
"This makes no sense at all."
We have removed our paywall from our stories about coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we aim to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.