Cops waive redundant pillion fine

Ryan Cullen fined for pillion

A Gold Coast rider has successfully challenged a fine for illegally carrying a pillion because the offence was dropped by law just days later.

Kawasaki ZX-10R rider Ryan Cullen was taking his wife, Tiffani, home from work on the back of his bike on a cold July night when he was pulled over by an RBT.

He was fined when the officer realised Ryan had not had his R licence for a year and could not legally carry a pillion.

Days later, the State Government announced that the minor infringement would be dropped from October 2016. The offence attracted an $81 fine and no demerit points.

Ryan decided to fight the minor infringement not only over the moral courage of the offence being struck off days later, but also because the police officer would not let him take his wife home and left her stranded by the roadside at night.

He says the police promised they would stay on the site while Ryan came back with another vehicle. However, they left the site minutes after Ryan had ridden off.

Ryan was incensed that the police put his wife in a dangerous situation over a minor offence.

Criticism

When Motorbike Writer published the story in October, several people criticised Ryan for leaving his wife behind and for not putting her in a taxi.

“Organising a taxi or similar sounds good in hindsight, but we were promised a police presence for the hour required to return with a car,’ he says.

“We did call friends about picking her up for us, but no one we knew lived close by. The thought did come up to us for a taxi, but that would have cost more than the infringement was for, and again, it shouldn’t have been necessary to consider if the police did what they promised.”

Meanwhile, Ryan’s persistence in challenging the minor fine paid off.

“After I sent my complaint to SPER (the State Penalties and Enforcement Registry which collects unpaid fines and court-ordered penalties), they said I need to contact the police again to resolve the matter with them, as they couldn’t waive the fine,” he says.

“They put the account on hold for 28 days so I could do that.

“I then called Police Link to find out how I could get them to respond to me. I was put through to a local police station and they advised I had to deliver the complaint by hand.

“I provided them all the details I had at the time and requested to speak with the Officer in Charge about the situation. He was unavailable at the time, however I said to call me in whenever it was convenient.

“No call was received, however I did get a response by letter. It stated that the infringement was valid and would stand. They said I had the option to pay it or go to court.

“Instead of that, I wrote another letter expressing my dissatisfaction on their decision, and that I expected them to waive the infringement.

“And just last week, their response arrived. They claimed that although the infringement was valid, they would withdraw the fine.”

Persistence

It just goes to show that sometimes persistence pays off.

In a similar situation, a Brisbane rider was fined in 2015 for standing while riding and summonsed to court five months after the law was axed.

He complained on principle and took the matter to court. However, the $280 fine and three demerit points were upheld.

“Surely there should be some sort of amnesty on fines after the government has announced they will remove that law,” Ryan says.

“If a law is going to be repealed, shouldn’t the police back off?”

Licence dates

Also, Ryan pointed out that some readers of the original article may not have understood that his license didn’t show the date he upgraded.

“On the night of the incident, I was riding under the belief that it was lawful,” he says.

“The ‘effective date’ range mimicked my car licence. It originally said ‘C O 11/05/2011 to 10/05/2016’ on my previous license, and ‘R O 11/05/2011 to 10/05/2016’. The licence renewal in May meant the start date changed to 11/05/2016.
“This meant I had to think back to when I did my Q ride training, and I thought it was mid-2015. It turned out to be in October, so I had only had my R licence for around nine months at the time.”

3 Comments

  1. “If a law is going to be repealed, shouldn’t the police back off?”

    Of course not – because this is *not* about the law (or about “what is right” or “justice” or any other antiquated concepts); it’s about revenue and statistics.

  2. It’s things like this that makes many in the public have a very negative attitude towards police. Tourists come to this country and wonder what is wrong with the police here when the message of enforcement is done in fear and intimidation tactics.

    It’s the police that have created this us-against-them attitude in Australia.

    1. Absolutely agree. Last year in Italy I accidentally rode into a restricted area with my wife on the back taking photos. Whilst the Italian police were a little flummoxed with my laid back Aussie attitude (I opened with “what’s up?” much to their distaste) they understood I made an honest mistake and just turned me around and sent me on my way. And this was in the wake of recent terrorist activities in Europe so they were on high alert. They could have arrested me and detained both of us.

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