While a fine for a tinted helmet visor has been withdrawn, another fine for a helmet camera continues to be dragged out in the courts.
The helmet camera case against defendant Max Lichenbaum was adjourned in the Frankston Magistrates Court this month for a new hearing date of September 16, 2015, due to the courts having too many cases fixed for hearing and there being no available magistrate to hear the matter. It is the third adjournment of the case.
Defence lawyer Malcolm Cumming, principal of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, believes their case will succeed against a $289 fine and three demerit points for “failure to wear an approved helmet”.
However, in the wake of the Victoria Police withdrawing another similar fine for Luke Johnson over a “non-compliant” tinted visor, his firm is seeking public information about any recent infringements relating to cameras or visors.
“We’re interested to know what the current climate is,” he says. “Are police issuing fines for helmet fences in Victoria or any other jurisdictions?”
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Malcolm says the police did not give any reason for withdrawing the tinted visor fine, but they are using the same defence in the helmet case, so there may be a precedent.
Their case is called a “threshold argument”.
“The fundamental principle is that there is a defence to any charge against you if the the charge involves trying to prove a breach of a document if the standard is not publicly available free of charge which is a basic legal principal,” he says.
Australian Motorcycle Council Helmets Committee Chair Guy Stanford says the cost for all the relevant documents is $692, which is prohibitive to the public.
“To comprehend AS/NZS 16982006, it is necessary to also understand the other standards referenced within its text,” he says.
The current prices on the SAI Global website for downloading the PDFs are:
AS/NZS 1698:2006 $47
AS 1609-1981 $55
AS/NZS 2512.3.1:2007 $47
AS/NZS 2512.5.1:2008 $36
AS/NZS 2512.7.2:2009 $47
BS ISO 6658:2005$270
Max was fined in Marc 2014, and the matter was adjourned in December for police to investigate these costs. It was adjourned again in February, 2015, to give the police more time for research and then this month over court issues.
Malcolm says that if the Magistrate finds for them, it may have ramifications on other issues where the road rules reference the standards, such as tinted visors.
The defendant was booked in March while riding in Frankston with a GoPro on his helmet. He was fined only for the helmet camera “offence”.
“An unusual feature of the event was that at the time the policeman was being filmed for a New Zealand produced reality police TV show,” Malcolm says.
Helmet cameras are legal in the US and UK.
In Australia, police in various states interpret the rules differently with some believing cameras and tinted visors are illegal and others believing they are legal.
Most police wear cameras on their helmets and in Queensland a former Police Minister actually encouraged cyclists to wear helmet cameras to use in evidence if they are harassed or involved in a crash.
Check out how good the evidence is in this video incident in London where a Ducati Monster rider had his bike crushed by a truck.