Is it illegal to drive without a horn?
Technically yes, as it's a safety hazard to not have a working horn, but of course there’s a very slim chance that police passing you on the road could have reason to suspect that you're driving without a functional horn. But that doesn’t mean that you should risk it and get on the road without the ability to communicate a quick warning to others that could save you from a crash.
Read on for state-by-state advice on driving without a horn but remember that regardless of what the law says, your horn isn’t just there for you to occasionally beep at Sunday drivers - it’s a tool that could mean the difference between a near miss and a crash, if you use it properly!
In New South Wales there’s no exact legislation prohibiting driving without a horn but there are offences for driving a vehicle that doesn’t comply to standards of roadworthiness. And considering that NSW Roads & Maritimes Services take horns/warning devices seriously enough to give you a $330 fine for using them unnecessarily (according to the NSW RMS’ fact sheet on demerit points), you can assume that not having a horn at all could get you into trouble.
Likewise, according to the Australian Capital Territory government’s traffic infringement document, using a horn unnecessarily is an offence in the ACT too, as well as driving without a working horn - which can set you back $193.
In Queensland, as per the state government’s demerit points schedule, you’re risking a $126 fine and one demerit point if you drive without a horn.
And in Victoria, according to VicRoads information on fines and penalties, if you take a vehicle on the road that doesn’t comply with standards of roadworthiness you could get hit with a $396 fine.
Things get a bit more specific in the Apple Isle, as the Tasmanian Transport’s traffic offences list states that you can be fined $119.25 for driving in breach of vehicle standards for horns, alarms or warning devices - and we can only assume this would include having a working horn.
The South Australian government specifies, in their fact sheet on light vehicle standards, that having a horn in good working condition is a standard of roadworthiness - so it’s safe to say that if you were pulled over without a working horn, your car would be considered defective and you’d be penalised accordingly.
We couldn’t find any information on driving without a horn on Western Australia’s road authority website but if you’d like to know more you can call the WA Demerit point hotline on 1300 720 111.
Likewise, the Northern Territory’s traffic and penalties information page is limited and doesn’t refer to driving without a horn. But in all states, you should drive with a horn for your own safety and the safety of others, and also to avoid having your insurance coverage voided in the event of an accident.
You should always consult your specific insurance agreement for insurance advice but in general you should also be aware of the fact that driving without a horn could definitely affect your insurance. While you might feel confident that police passing you on the road won’t know if your horn is in working order or not, if you get into a crash and then a mechanic reports your horn to have been faulty before the crash, you could have your insurance contract voided on the grounds that you weren’t driving a roadworthy vehicle when you had a collision.
There’s a very slim chance that police passing you on the road could have reason to suspect that you were driving without a working horn. But that doesn’t mean that you should risk it and get on the road without the ability to communicate a quick warning to others that could save you from a crash.
This article is not intended as legal advice. You should check with your local road authority to verify the information written here is suitable to your situation before driving in this manner.