A rider who was fined for standing while riding and summonsed to court five months after the law was axed, has had the court uphold the $280 fine and three demerit points.
Airline pilot Ben O’Keefe of Brisbane says he stood for about 15 seconds to relieve tension in his legs and was fined in October last year. He wrote to the police to contest the fine and never received a reply until the summons arrived in July, even though the law against standing was dropped in February.
“I went into court with the intention of pleading not guilty, but it wasn’t a hearing,” he says.
“If you plead not guilty, they set aside a hearing date and that’s all that happens.
“If you plead guilty, they will ask why you get off and I didn’t want to go back for a lengthy hearing as I don’t have the time. So I pled guilty.”
The short charge read out in court said Ben was standing on the footpegs of his BMW R 1200 GS.
“I admitted that and then (the Magistrate) asked me to explain so I simply stated that I stood momentarily for about 10 to 15 seconds to stretch because riding for four hours causes tightness in my legs.
“I stated that at all times my hands and feet were covering the controls. I did it in a safe area and was not speeding. I also stated the bike is specifically designed to be ridden standing up.”
(The BMW R 1200 GS owner’s manual actually refers to the folding brake pedal which is to be folded down when riding the bike standing up.)
“He simply responded that he will impose the penalty and the demerit points and that was that. I really should have asked him why it’s ok for Queensland cops to stretch their legs and stand whilst riding but it’s not ok for us (well now it is!) but I got the impression to just get out of there from him.
“I’m pissed that I didn’t question him more.
“Anyway I’ll just get on with it and put it behind me.”
Ben says it is ludicrous that the police would pursue the matter five months after the laws had been changed and waste the court’s time.
While the magistrate was legally correct, Ben says the community expectation would be that the fine was unfair given the laws had changed. He says the expectation of a magistrate is that they interpret the intention of the law, not just rubber-stamp police prosecutions like a bureaucrat.
Ben also feels he was the victim of a crammed court and intimidating surroundings.
“The magistrate didn’t want to hear any more,” Ben says. “In hindsight I should have stood there and questioned him, but I got the impression he just wanted to go to lunch and process as many as he could. There were lots of people in court.
“I could’ve tried a bit harder but it’s quite intimidating and there are police all around you.”
While the rule has been changed in Queensland to allow riders to “remove a foot from the footrests to stretch a leg or raise themselves from the seat when riding on uneven road surfaces”, the old rules may style apply in other states unless they have overruled rule 271 in the Australian Road Rules of February 2012.
AUSTRALIAN ROAD RULES – REG 271—Riding on motor bikes
(1) The rider of a motor bike that is moving (other than a rider who is walking beside and pushing a motor bike), or the rider of a motor bike that is stationary but not parked, must—