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VIC Innocent but still punished. Don't think it can't happen to you

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by Bamm-Bamm, May 17, 2011.

  1. I would like to tell you all about how a Sunday ride with friends can go terribly wrong and how the stress of being involved in a motorcycle accident is bad enough without having to contend with being dragged into court on a baseless charge.

    My wife was on a group ride with myself and about 10 friends in October last year when it all went a bit pear shaped, doing between 60-80kph in an 80 zone(verified by independent witnesses at the scene) she failed to take a left hand bend. On arriving at the scene and being confronted with her bike lying half destroyed on an embankment and her lying face down and not moving on the side of the road...it's not something that I want to see again, little did I know but the accident was just the beginning of a very stressful time.

    Paramedics were called and they attended along with the local police officer, the paramedics suspected a broken leg and perhaps spinal injuries so my wife was flown to the Alfred by air ambulance, the first person on scene was a doctor on holidays who assisted the paramedics. I distinctly recall him answering the police officer when asked how fast he thought my wife was going, his answer about 60-80kph. After getting her stabilised the police officer handed me a card and told me to give him a call if there were any questions, with that the paramedics loaded her into the air ambulance and took off for the Alfred.

    Thankfully her injuries were not serious and she was released from hospital after 4 days, 2 in a neckbrace which is bad enough but she had to suffer hospital food too! The Alfred staff were fantastic, even though they were under the pump they were professional, caring and considerate...unfortunately the same can't be said of Victoria police.

    The week after the accident I received a call from the police officer who attended the scene, asking how my wife was and would she mind if he gave her a call. I told him she was recovering and I'm sure she would like to hear from him. Well....not quite, she received a call alright, informing her that she would be charged with "a charge above careless riding" and she was going to be charged on summons, he informed her a police officer from our local station would be in touch to get her statement.

    After being away attending MotoGP (in a wheelchair no less) and dropping her phone in the mud and killing it she checked her messages when she got home and had at least a dozen messages from our local station requesting she set a time for an interview. The next thing I know we have a police officer knocking on the door looking for my wife, she arrives home from work while he is at the door and he bails her up at the car telling her she HAS to attend an interview, if she doesn't "we will take your license for 2 years", "we will come and arrest you" etc...etc.. When I asked if she actually had to attend an interview by law I was told no she doesn't but if she didn't co-operate they would go after her using the full extent of the law. My somewhat flustered wife agreed to attend an interview that Saturday morning at our local station, and the officer left.

    After he left we were left wondering what the hell had just happened, she didn't kill anybody, she has a squeaky clean driving record yet here we were reliving a scene out of some bad US police drama show. Now thoroughly pissed off we determined that we had nothing to gain by making a statement, the police were already making it abundantly clear they wanted to pursue this through the courts, apparently the police have the option of writing a TIN for careless driving if they wanted, but they had elected not to do so. It was highly doubtful that popping in for a quiet chat over a tape recorder and a coffee was going to change anything.

    We contacted Sean Hardy who is a barrister who specialises in traffic law, he came highly recommended by various people that we know through motorcycling. After having a consultation and a hearty laugh at what the police had been telling us he suggested we DO NOT attend an interview, however he did mention it may be courteous to ring the local station and inform them that "on the advice of my lawyer I won't be attending an interview". My wife called the station to speak to the police officer the appointment was with, he was out so she asked to leave a message, she explained she wouldn't be attending, blah blah blah...and again got the intimidation "are you sure you want to do this", "you know what this means don't you"etc

    Sure enough 6 months or so later a summons arrives for careless driving, requiring my wife to attend a mention hearing, where you either plead guilty and cop your punishment or you plead not guilty and are then able to get a copy of the "brief of evidence" (or non evidence in this case). Our barrister informed the prosecutor or our intention to plead not guilty and waited for the brief to arrive to prepare for the contest mention.

    The contest mention date was approaching, our barrister had gone through the brief of evidence (again cue hearty laughter) and was very confident that we had a good case. At the contest mention our lawyer poked holes in the prosecutions brief of evidence until surprise, surprise they offered to drop the charges...but only on the condition we did not pursue costs. To pursue costs would have cost in the vicinity of $6500 and involved a long drawn out case, while the police have plenty of money to throw at frivolous lawsuits unfortunately we do not. My wife just wanted to put this whole sorry saga behind her and get on with her life so we agreed.

    This whole unnecessary saga has cost $1800+ to have charges dropped that should never have been laid in the first place. Sure we could have fought it and on the advice of our barrister we probably would have won but the additional legal fees to get the that stage would dissuade most people unless they had the money to potentially burn to make a point.

    Subsequent inspection of the road a week after the accident showed a poor road surface with a trough running right through that corner. The corner is not what I would call a difficult one yet there have been quite a few crashes there (bits of bikes in the scrub are a dead giveaway), in fact the Paramedics knew exactly which corner it was! My wife can remember little of the accident other than the front slid out. The road surface imo could well have contributed to that.

    In addition while doing some digging I found a great letter from a Victoria police member stating that soon TAC would be pressing for careless riding charges be laid in dirt bike accidents see quote below, it doesn't take too much of a stretch to see why it would not apply to road accidents too. See quote from letter below

    [FONT=&quot]"TAC the body that pays for all these incidents will soon insist that every rider be considered for charges of Careless Driving, which in this case was a possibility. Taking your bike out in atrocious conditions without consideration to the track conditions and your riding ability is an act of carelessness in my opinion, not an accident and may well be treated as such in the future." [/FONT]

    The point of my long winded post is this...

    • The police are not your friend...tell them NOTHING. Not at the scene, not at the station. Anything do say can seriously bite you on the arse.
    • You DO NOT have to make a Statement or be interviewed unless you are UNDER ARREST, and even then you can anwser "no comment"
    • Ignore the bluster and bullshit, get LEGAL ADVICE. To the police you are just another crim, don't let them intimidate you into not exercising your rights
    • Don't fall for the "come in for a chat it's not too late to issue a TIN", bullshit...if they were going to you'd have one, coming in for a chat simply solidifies their case because like it or not police are skilled interrogators and people not used dealing with them think they can be trusted(so did I once). So they incriminate themselves
    • Even if you are innocent you are still punished, $1800 worth thanks very much
    • Finally don't think it can't happen to you, it can and does. We found this out the hard way.
    There are a couple of questions that need to be answered though...

    1. Since when does the TAC dictate to the police who should or should not be charged with an offence.
    2. How is it that you can be charged with an offence, have the charge dropped yet still be liable for costs? As it stands I truly believe that innocent people plead guilty as they either can't afford legal representation or they just want the hassle out of their lives. There is no lose for the police in this, they simply throw out charges hoping they stick and if worse comes to worse and they withdraw the charge you still pay your legal costs and the taxpayer(you again!) picks up theirs.
    Sorry for the long winded post but I hope this is of some help for somebody...and I needed to vent:censored:
    • Informative Informative x 3
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  2. Now you know, sorry that it was the hard way for you to find out tho,

    Most people just dont know that this is what happens,

    Been there, done it,

    And all it does is cost you big heaps,

    Thats why I just put out my hand and cop the ticket, I dont say any thing,
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. Mate, horrible story.

    One question I keep hearing about when stories like this are around is "Have you contacted your local member of parliament?"

    I strongly suggest you go to them with this.
    If nothing else; it will go on public record that a member of the public felt harassed/intimidated by officers X Y Z.
    If local area command are in touch with the MP's office (and they are!) - then they will have a very clear but not well publicized mandate to 'hassle crims, not voters'.

    Local MP would be my first point of call to raise a shitstorm over something like this.
  4. You are 100% correct.

    Almost the exact same thing happened to me but in my car.

    I got so many charges laid against me it wasnt funny even though the cop at the scene (which I mistakenly helped out) said it would just be a fine and thats it.

    I too contacted Sean Hardy and he was an absolute champion. We attended court and he had all the charges dropped.

    Damn expensive lesson was learnt by me and what a stressful time!

    Luckily all the charges were dropped/no conviction as my current job requires many back round checks to travel for work overseas.

    Any time in the future (hopefully it won't happen) that I have a run in with the cops... I will not say a word to them until I have been in contact with Sean.
  5. Thats a terrible story mate.

    I had a sorta similar thing at my last court appearance.

    They had agreed to drop the charge of refuse to obey police direction (read: Kept going when police have already initiated the chase), on account of the fact that I didn't realise the police were behind me for a few minutes, but pulled over as soon as I saw them in my mirrors.

    I intended to plead guilty to every other charge they were throwing at me.

    Well, surprise surprise, when we got to court, my lawyer informed me that they intended to charge me with "fail to obey a police direction", even after he had talked to them a few weeks before hand and said that this was the one charge I would be pleading not guilty to.

    I told him that if that was the case, then I'd be pleading not guilty to everything, and they could try and justify to the court why they were charging me with failing to obey, when I knew they had an audio recording of me saying when they pulled me over "I honestly didn't know you were behind me, officer, and pulled over as soon as I saw you"

    They decided pretty quick not to bother with the fail to obey charge, considering they nalready had me on 4 other charges, I was wondering why they would bother.

    Cunce, the lot of them.
  6. That sucks Bamm-Bamm - at least the missus is OK.

    I copped a careless driving ticket when I dropped my bike (single vehicle accident) doing less than 50kmh - vouched for by the driver following me - in the wet downhill on Bells Line a year or so ago. I got legal advice about contesting it and was told that I would most likely win the case, but the costs would outweigh the fine, and at the time I had plenty of points so wasn't worried about losing my license.

    A year on and I am now hanging on to my license by the skin of my teeth after a couple of minor speeding fines (like doing 50 in what I didn't realise was a school zone thinking I was doing the right thing) sometimes I think I should have fought it.

    They are all perfectly aware of how these things work, and that most people won't have the time/money/expertise to contest or even question them. Fukd.
  7. I contest everything.

    Points are worth more than dollars.
  8. Hi Bamm.
    I've know of this careless riding or riding without proper control of a motorcycle (something like that) for a fair while mate...About 4 years ago, I was out in the boonies...WAY out...and the bloke in front of me slammed an embankment at about 70k's, on a corner where nothing should have happened.
    Ambo's were called, and it took them nearly 2hrs to get there...

    Now the good bit...2plods turn up from the same town, and I'm wondering to myself, how the feck did THEY know about it...obviously they do a little ambulance chasing or the hospital or ambo's rang them....who knows why, since we had told them that there maybe a broken foot and mild concussion, but that it was not serious. (no need for lights and sirens etc)

    All goes well, and then the young cop said to me, How'd he come off...and before I could answer one of the other blokes spoke out and said that his front wheel skipped right out from under him when he hit all the stomes there...
    HUH? I dunno what the feck he's talking about...there were no stones, and the rider never got near the apex...and then I turn around.
    While I was riding around trying to get a mobile tower signal, he and a few others scuffed some apex debris, from where cars clearly often cut the corner and had strewn it around the corner approach side....grabbed a bike and locked the back wheel as going through it, to leave an obvious slide mark...VERY SMART!...coz later on, the older cop said, as a give away, that it was a good thing that debris was there or they would have charged him for careless riding. I said to the bloke, so...if I just had a lapse of concentration, maybe coz a car came to close from the other direction and just got off line and crashed....as there was was no obvious reason for me to crash, then I was riding carelessly...Unfortunately, I told them to fuck off, as I was incensed at that stupidity, and then a whole different conversation started, which I won't bother going into...

    So the coppers have been doing it for years mate...but usually it is a TIN - posted to you, since usually, you are in too bad a shape to communicate with after an off like that.

    So yeah, Bamm...the buggers have been doing it for quite a while now, mate.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Hi Bamm,
    I'm glad Sean came through for you both and you beat the cunz. (wasn't it a right hander by the way?)

  10. What is the point in even applying this law?

    What benefit does it provide to the road environment - does it make it safer?

    No, this is all about money and the parasitic behaviour of state run gangs.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Hey Bamm-Bamm,

    That's awful shit what they did, man. I'm glad your wife was okay after the accident, and that you were around to support her through such a stressful time.

    The cops are carnts and I will never again say anything to them that could incriminate myself, not even slightly.
  12. Great to hear that the missus was ok.

    I learned my lesson with the coppers way back when they changed their statements in court. They are out to get you, no matter what. Justice has nothing to do with it.

    Thanks for the post.
  13. actually it was a right hand bend, not thinking clearly when typing up my rant!

    putting an end to this farce is something that needs to happen. did you know that you can be charged with careless if you lowside due to hitting gravel, an animal etc...because you were not riding "to the conditions". it's a joke and any lobby group looking to make a name for themselves would have my whole hearted support if they opposed this ridiculous situation.
  14. Glad she came out of it in 1 piece mate (relatively). My wife wants to get a bike (and I want her to as well... don't get me wrong) but that's one thing that does worry me. I reckon coming around a corner and seeing that would be heart stopping.

    It's about making it so uncomfortable to ride an MC that we stop doing it. Just keep hassling us until we give up. Police have just become an extension of the TAC in some regards, and we all know how much fun insurance companies are to deal with.
    NOTE: Not all police are like this, I happen to know a few who are very decent people, even some people on this forum.

    yes, a total joke.
  15. Sorry you both had to go through all that Bamm-Bamm.

    I would have thought that your lawyer would point out to the cops that there was an extremely high probability of you winning, should you continue, and that when you did costs would be more like $8,500, rather than $1,800. I wouldn't have thought they would want to take that risk. Maybe they are constrained by procedure.

    I knew that happened in NSW, but I didn't know it happened in Victoria. I'm not surprised though.

    If enough people join and vote for a proposal you put up, then the cause will probably be accepted. You may need a broader agenda though.
  16. That's atrocious treatment.

    Definitely worth writing letters to members over. Lobbying can only do so much but lobbying plus you exercising your democratic rights will do more.
  17. Thats no good at all. Doesn't sound right that they can take take action without speaking to you first.

    NSW laws are a little different though.
  18. I’m happy to throw a couple of hundred bucks towards a case for damages. Maybe one or two big wins that are heavily publicised will keep them off our backs.
  19. Hey Bamm, reading your story shits me to tears. Glad to hear the wifey is ok, but this has changed my entire view on VicPol.
  20. Really bad how badly they treated your wife, in my opinion they should have been more compassionate and used their powers of discretion. Bloody dogs!