Judge dismisses helmet camera fine

Max fronts media outside Frankston Magistrates Court

A controversial case in which a rider was fined almost $300 for having a GoPro action camera on his helmet has been dismissed by a Melbourne Country Court judge.

It was the sixth time rider Max Lichenbaum had appeared before the court over the 2014 fine in what has been described as a farcical process and a waste of the court’s time on such a trivial matter.

After deliberating the case over night, Judge John Jordan simply said: “I set aside the magistrate’s verdict and dismiss the charge.”

On the previous appearance in court, the Magistrate reduced the fine to $150, but Max decided to fight the fine.

Pro bono defence counsel, Malcolm Cumming of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, says their defence argued that the Australian Standards only apply to a helmet when sold, the relevant rules are too difficult for the public to access ansd that there is no roadworthy test for helmets like there is for vehicles.

Read the full text of his arguments here.

The judge agreed with the defence argument that the laws were not accessible and didn’t need to consider the other arguments.

Malcolm says while he is happy with the verdict, there is “still a lot of work to do” because the compliance issue is not resolved.

Malcolm Cumming - judge
Malcolm Cumming

“The verdict means people who have been convicted in Victoria ought not to have been,” he says. “You can’t do anything retrospectively, but it means it is now an open question in relation to whether compliance is ongoing.”

He says it doesn’t mean all Australian riders, no matter whether they are motorcyclists or cyclists, should be able to attach a camera to their helmet.

Malcolm says they have a lot of lobbying to do on the Victorian Government to get some consistency with other states such as South Australia, ACT and Queensland.

Max says he doesn’t know if it was worth all the hassle and effort, but is happy with the result which he says is good for everyone.

“Hopefully it will help other riders,” he says.

Max was disappointed he was not able to make a statement in court when the charge was dismissed.

“I wanted to say I wear all the safety gear plus a camera on my helmet, yet someone who rides around wearing thongs and shorts, no gloves but a helmet, well that’s legal.”

Longtime helmet campaigner Wayne Carruthers says the long time for the judge to deliver a verdict was due to the lawyers calling into question the validity of the entire regulations which meant complex legal arguments.

He says common sense prevailed and a precedent set which will force State Regulators towards the unified ARR for setting of standards.

He says it is hoped helmet offences are separated into multiple items such as not wearing any helmet and wearing a helmet with the wrong visor.

“This case also has implications for bicycle helmets and child restraints as they are also treated in the same way as helmets and outside the normal safety standards systems used for all other vehicle components.

“Regardless of the win, we now have an example of police and prosecutors wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer money on a pointless exercise in power which can be used politically and in the mass media,” he says.

4 Comments

  1. I have my camera mounted behind my windscreen using a suction cap mount to try and avoid hassles like this. I wonder how long it will take for helmet manufacturers to start building cameras into their helmets which would make this whole process a lot simpler for riders. The cynic in me thinks that the police in general don’t like the fact that we are getting our own evidence to defend ourselves rather than than relying on someone else version of events.

  2. Well well, who would have thunk that common sense would have prevailed?
    Now where is the general murdoch muck media baying for blood on the frivolous waste of taxpayers money?
    Oh silly efen me, who in the general muck media gives a flying, you know what, the department of public prostitution would so blantantly waste our hard earned dollars.
    Money well spent to get at them there horrid bike scum.
    The same ones, who give up time, effort, money to charity attending events all around the state and country, supporting businesses along the way. (more so than them anyway with there O/S junkets).
    Well who is going to stand up, and ask the question, why was this case, a at best described as a some bully boy chest thumping cop, trying to flex his will, his interpretation of the law, and his muscle upon motorcyclists.
    If this cop could think past his donut ingesting naval, helmet cams actually make his and the life of his colleagues easier.
    Im lead to believe here in the nanny state of Victoria police, do not need a warrant to confiscate mirco SD cards, to view footage taken by any road user, and make a booking if any road offences have been committed. Lets face it, they spend lots of time and effort tracking down youtubers whom are not as bright as others posting their driving and riding prowess for all to see.
    Insurance companies love them, cases cut and dried.
    Oh thats right (slapping myself around the head) gee it might shed a different light on those scum that governments the police agenies, the general murdock muck media are trying to legistate from the roads altogether, you knows those 2 wheeled hell raising dog molesting drug supplying, murdering, lowlifes commonly referred to motorcyclists.
    Shyte you not, reckon if id had a gropro a year or two, back id have some very incriminating footage of cops, and their total disregard for motorcyclists their safety , and the total failure in their duty. Would have been most embarrassing for 4 such cops.
    Oh shyte (getting efen sick of this slapping myself around the head, crap) gee thats right, they are allowed to photograph and film us, but not visa versa.

  3. Regardless of the fact the case has specific Victorian regulatory considerations, every rider who has been issued with an infringement notice for a helmet to the wrong standard, a camera fitted or a visor should write to their State Minister and MP demanding a review of State Regulations and refund of the fine

    If you dont make your presence felt through the proper political process improper Police behaviour will continue, exhausts are a new area the NSW police are “interpreting” standards

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