How to get out of a speeding fine after double-demerit season

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Speeding fines are big business for state governments around Australia.

Last financial year NSW reaped $79 million from almost 230,000 speeding offences.

Big bickies, although nothing compared with Victoria, which is budgeting for a 44% increase in speeding offences for the 2020-2021 financial year taking total revenue collected from cameras to a whopping $475 million.

how to get out of a speeding fine

That's around $73 for every single person in Victoria, licensed or not. If Victorians don't speed, the state budget is in more strife!

Little wonder many people are keen to explore ways of not paying the fine and not having demerit points applied, something more relevant given double demerit points are applied over holiday periods in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and the ACT.

But what's the best way to get out of a speeding fine?

The first option is to ask for a review.

It may sound silly, but in many instances it works, especially for minor offences.

In NSW, for example, if you were caught at less than 20km/h over the limit and have had a clean driving record for 10 years you're a good chance to get off simply by filling out the online forms and explaining why you think you should get a caution as opposed to a fine.

There are exceptions: if the fine was issued in a school zone, for example, then that won't work. And for heavy vehicles cautions are also not considered.

But even if you don't meet the criteria it's sometimes worth requesting a review as your first port of call.

In Victoria, it seems they like to make those fines stick.

Victoria Police will consider a review if you were caught for less than 10km/h over the limit and have had no warning or infringements for two years.

Police say they consider things such as where the fine was issued, the driver's record and even weather conditions and time of day.

In Queensland, police say there are "no provisions under Queensland legislation to offer leniency based on a good driving record, interstate 'gold' licences or because you've never had a ticket before".

That said, there are instances where police may apply leniency, such as if there was a medical emergency. Again, there's no harm in filling out the online "infringement enquiry".

If that fails then the other option is to request the infringement be heard in court.

Once in court there are two broad options: disputing that you committed the offence (pleading not guilty) or admitting you committed the offence (pleading guilty) and asking the court for leniency.

In the first instance you'll need a strong argument and evidence as to why you are innocent.

Police and camera operators must adhere to strict checks and regulations and they know how the court process works, so almost religiously ensure the boxes are ticked.

Sydney-based traffic and criminal lawyer Chris Kalpage says the onus is on the prosecution to prove the offence but that the authorities are well versed.

"With speed cameras all they have to do is tender the necessary documentation to show it has been calibrated," he says.

But mistakes and oversights can happen.

Unless you're familiar with the court process it's worth getting a lawyer, preferably one with experience in fighting infringements and how magistrates are likely to consider your argument.

And there will likely be additional material required in formulating your case, whether it's references, expert witnesses or evidence as to why you did not commit the offence.

The other option is to admit you committed the offence and request no conviction, often known as a Section 10.

Arguments relied on for a Section 10 often involve your driving record and may also lean on character references and your need for a licence; having to take your sick mother for hospital check-ups is likely to be viewed more favourably than requiring a licence for a weekly stock-up your liquor cabinet.

Kalpage says every case is different and the defence "has to be tailor-made to the client".

Your lawyer may ask you to take part in an offender's rehabilitation program to show you have learnt from your mistake.

Whether the magistrate lets you off completely or imposes a lesser penalty will rely on how convincing your argument was, the magistrate and the circumstances of the alleged offence, among other factors.

No guarantees, then, and by the time you add in your legal representation the costs are likely to run into thousands of dollars.

And as well as court costs (usually around $100) there's often an offender or victims' levy, which may be a couple of hundred dollars.

So requesting leniency in the courts is not something you'd do if your goal is to reduce the financial penalty. It's something you'd do if you do not want to (or cannot afford to) accumulate demerit points that could ultimately leave you with a cancelled licence.

Good luck!

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Toby Hagon is one of Australia's most respected motoring writers. A regular contributor to News Corp, Wheels magazine, Qantas magazine and 4x4 Australia, he also features as a motoring expert on ABC Radio and is editor of EVcentral.com.au.
Comments
John Pinn
January 13, 2021 4.48pm

I believe this article should, at the top of its list, give the strategy "Do not exceed the speed limit!"

Stella Smith
January 13, 2021 4.53pm

You must be fun at parties.

The point of the story is how to get out of a fine, not how to avoid getting booked for speeding.

Mike Richards
January 13, 2021 11.05pm

And speaking as a Gen-X, then you Stella, must be exceptionally rude and/or immature with that attitude.

You sound like one of those people who thinks that "driving just a bit faster than other people at the speed limit is alright because it isn't really speeding", that it's "cool" to speed or somehow, an Australian "right" or "entitlement" to drive that little bit over (and where does it stop) ? Would you say the same if it was about "how to get out of a fine for drink driving" from the same party, or is that socially unacceptable nowadays ?

Maybe you should experience first hand, receiving a knock on the door late at night from the police to inform you that your best friend has just been killed in a road incident 500m from your shared house because someone was speeding. I have, and I hope you never do. Maybe that might change your opinion.

Maybe you should think about how scary it is to have someone endlessly tailgating you, with nowhere to pull out of their way, pressuring you and then they overtake you, weaving back in through traffic, purely because you drive to the conditions and all because "you're going too slow" for them and they're too impatient, or think that driving faster and getting to where they're going faster than others, is a 'right'.

Even at 60km/h, even 5km/h over (the urban myth of the so-called "allowance" of 10 percent before you get booked) means an additional 11 to 18 percent increase in your stopping distance, and that is depending on the road, the weather and assuming your tyres and brakes are in good working order.

If you're towing a trailer and/or driving a larger, heavier car or other vehicle then your distances increase even more.

"Don't want to get caught speeding ? Then don't speed", as Road Safety Minister Tom Kenyon said in 2011. It's as simple as that - "driving with due care and attention" and "driving to the conditions". If you and others can't do something as simple as that, then please don't drive.

Paul M
January 15, 2021 2.42am

Mike Richards. I actually agree with Stella but at the same time agree with you. If you look at the title of the article it is "How to get out of a speeding fine after double-demerit season" So Stella saying how do you get out of it is correct. In saying that she could have worded it better or the article could have been worded better such as "What are your options if you get a speeding ticket or options for any ticket (in reference to you talking about drink driving) after double demerit season."

Andy Harwood
January 25, 2021 1.48pm

Mike,

You think you're the only person with a tale of woe?

Wake up mister, society doesn't need highly opinionated, self rightous stories.

And also, try and keep your replies in context with the publication. Not rambling on about irrelevant facts!

Mark Tindale
January 27, 2021 7.05pm

Here, here... well said John. Pedestrian deaths have been going up for years... extremely irresponsible reporting at this time of year as well. Have a thought for families who have had that knock on the door from the police as a result of some idiot speeding.

Stella S
January 27, 2021 7.44pm

Nice sentiment, Mark, but you're completely wrong when it comes to the stats.

Pedestrian deaths in Australia have fallen every year since 2018, and fell more than 9% from 2019 to 2020.

https://www.statista.com/stati...

Mike Richards
January 13, 2021 10.36pm

For the record, no, I don't have and never have had any speeding fines, but "request the infringement be heard in court"; no, this is a bad idea in at least one State.

In SA, you have two choices essentially, which is pay the fine (and you can ask for an appeal /review before you do) or elect prosecution, which means "go to court".

If you go to court and lose, you are prosecuted, therefore, you end up with a criminal record (because it's a Summary Offence, not a civil offence) and it being a conviction. You may not necessarily go to jail, but you will then have a criminal conviction and will be treated accordingly (and if you go to some countries, you will have to declare that you have one at the border. If you lie and get caught, you will likely get deported for lying to Immigration)

So most people just go and pay the fine because it's easier; they know that they're unlikely to get "let off", regardless of their driving history and regardless of how fast they were allegedly going, which was confirmed by a SAPOL employee back in 2012 (source below), saying "For those who don't know the system, they just pay and be done with it.". Most people have no idea they can even appeal it, because they are never told so, UNLESS it is written into legislation that a notice must include details that a person can appeal the fine (if it doesn't, the notice is actually invalid, hence, they are all "form" letters).

Remember Independent SA MP Bob Such who said he believed "hundreds of other motorists" would have paid fines for offences they had not committed, with police administration only admitting their mistakes when they had been questioned on it ("South Australian police overturn more than 3500 traffic fines - The Advertiser, 25 August 2012") ?

George Taylor
January 14, 2021 9.43am

Has the government or SAPOL or any other authority involved in issuing speeding fines ever offered any evidence that substantially raising the fine amount has any impact on the road toll year to year? In SA the corporate fee for example went from 300 to 1800 dollars overnight. A five fold increase in the fees charged in my mind should be supported by some evidence that it is necessary or helpful from a safety point of view, which is always the argument from the police and the government, but where is the evidence?

I am ok with fines being issued to deter speeding. But the amounts and the increases are absolutely extortionate, and need to be justified.

Mike Richards
January 14, 2021 4.11pm

I agree George, take a look at driving a non-registered car; fines for offenders driving unregistered vehicles jumped from $335 to $1000, with vehicles unregistered for more than one month attracting an additional $1,500 fine for owners, up from $616, and the number went up when they removed registration stickers. So are we 2 1/2 to 3 times more safer than before ? I doubt it. And what about those unfortunate people who, for whatever reason, are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, maybe a lapse in concentration or remembering to pay their rego, or not having the cashflow, but will get it tomorrow and get caught. I don't think that they intended to do so, but a $1,000 fine is very heavy handed IMHO.

Figures obtained by Greens MLC Tammy Franks through Freedom of Information laws have revealed South Australia's fines for unregistered drivers have spiked by 22 percent since windscreen stickers had not been issued.

Source: "Caught by default: Unregistered driver fines up since removal of SA sticker system" 24 July 2013 and "Drivers beware: Unregistered vehicle fines in South Australia about to triple" 23 December 2013.

Mike Turner
January 15, 2021 1.19pm

It is all revenue raising regardless. Lowering speed causes more cars on rd longer. slower speeds allow drivers to lose concentration because it gives them time to look around. If you spend many hours on the rd you will see groupings of cars. Cars in groups are more prone to crashing through proximity, driver skill variations and also time restraints. Cars are so more advanced then cars even 10 years ago so using speed kills and stopping distances is also a wrong approach. You can't police stupidity but you can visit it at the cemetery. Statistics don't lie but rewording them to suit an agenda does