(UPDATE: Case 2 below has been dropped. The police have decided not to go ahead. That’s great news and is a lesson to us all to fight bogus traffic fines.)
Here’s a tip about traffic fines: Not every police officer knows every law in the burgeoning traffic rule book. That means they are fallible. And some of the rules require a judgement, which is subjective and can be challenged.
While most motorists just cop it sweet and pay the fine rather than challenge it and run the risk of losing and having to pay expense court costs, it is heartening to hear of a few cases of people challenging their fines.
In three traffic fine cases that have come to our attention, one rider was issued a fine for a bald tyre, another for an obscured number plate and another for obstruction. All cases required the officer to make a subjective judgement. In traffic fine cases such as this, it is advisable to take photos immediately at the scene to support your case.
One rider, known only as Michael, said he was stopped for a random breath test at 9.15pm and his bike was inspected by an officer using a torch. He issued a ticket for a bald tyre, which the rider refused and said he would challenge. He took his bike to a tyre shop the next day and they declared the tyre was ok.
“Police took no measurement of tyre tread depth,” Michael says. “So I should be able to get the matter dropped. But I think it’s good to challenge these matters where possible.”
We haven’t been able to contact Michael again, but we wish him the best.
The other matter involved Brisbane rider Kerry Crossingham who was on a poker run when the police pulled him over, along with 24 other riders.
The police officer took Kerry’s licence and photographed it with his personal mobile phone, which Kerry objected to. The officer also asked to photograph Kerry’s plain black leather vest, but he refused. It seems that was the moment the police decided they would find something to fine him for.
After about 10 minutes, the officer said he was not happy with the registration label which he claimed was obscuring the number plate so that it couldn’t be read at a 45 degree angle from the left. At no time did the officer measure it, according to Kerry.
A couple of days later Kerry received a fine for an obscured number plate as well as for riding a bike with a larger engine capacity than his licence allowed.
Kerry says he has had an open licence since the 1980s and believes the officer may have “cut and pasted” the letter from another fine in error. That could just be the loophole he needs to have the fine thrown out. So it pays to read the full text of the fine and any accompanying letter.
Kerry says he’s not fighting the traffic fine to save his licence or because he can’t afford it. “It’s not about the money at all. It’s the principle,” he says.
The day before his case was to go to court, he had a call to say the matter had been dropped! Just goes to show you should fight bogus fines.
In the third case, HD Chauffeur Ride director John Karmouche has an impeccable riding record, so he was more than a bit concerned when a police officer claimed he obstructed him when he took off from the side of the road.
“He claimed I didn’t look and obstructed him,” he says. “When the fine arrived it didn’t specify the precise location of the offence, so I decided to challenge it. The original infringement notice was withdrawn and it was left up to the cop to decide what to do. He sent me a court summons. In the court summons he referred to a particular intersection not mentioned in the original traffic infringement notice.
“I checked the street directory and noticed that there were two street corners about 75m apart. I was certain that I had pulled out from one of those, but he claimed I pulled out from the other. On the day I went to court for the mention hearing he was away on a course. I explained everything to the Police Prosecutor and she saw the technicality and took my number and said she would chase it up. I subsequently received a call from the cop saying that he had decided to withdraw the charge.
“Added to the situation was the I had a clean record and had recently qualified for the Good Driver Reward Program which is given to anyone who hasn’t accrued any demerits in the last three years. You get a 35% discount on the licence renewal. That program has since been removed as a money saver for the Victorian Government.
Do you have a bogus traffic fine? Tell us about it.