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[VIC] Challenging traffic infringement

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by bugeater, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. Does anyone know how this works? Is it even worth it?

    I got hit with a fine and 3 demerit points for less than 50m in an emergency lane. I went in there to avoid the numbnuts who stopped dead while merging. Once past them I merged back into the traffic. Then the bike cop pulled up next to me (yes in the emergency lane :roll: ) and fined me. I told him I did it to get around the cars. I didn't say anything once he said I was going to be fined (a few cars driving by yelled abuse at him though).

    The law says "A driver must not drive in the emergency stopping lane unless - (a) the driver needs to drive in the emergency stopping lane to avoid a collision, ...."

    I did enter the lane to avoid a collision. The key word is "needs". I probably could have hit the brakes, but given the small amount of time you have to make such decisions I chose the lane.

    Realistically I'm annoyed at the harshness of the fine, given the reason I was in the lane. It wasn't like I was travelling for km's or even 100m.

    But what it really comes down to is whether or not it's even worth bothering. I mean if I have to go to court and all that, it's bound to cost more and I don't know what the chances of getting off are. Are you typically expected to have a witness? Or do they typically accept your explanation if it shows you were actually acting within the law? I also don't need to worry about the demerit points either. I haven't gotten any in probably 6 years. But then I haven't been in Melbourne that long either.

    I'm pretty sure it isn't worth pursuing in my case, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth and a hole in my pocket.
  2. I think the time to state your case was when the bike cop booked you, I would have been talking to him first.
    The court would be on the side of the officer now.
  3. Problem is that I just assumed that entering the emergency lane at all was illegal unless you are pulling over. It's not like the cop recites the law to you. I was also shocked at being pulled over and somewhat hot and flustered from being in traffic for 50 minutes. It's only now that I know technically I didn't break the law, since I was avoiding a collision. I should have just jammed the brakes on - I'm sure I would have been fine :roll:

    It shits me because it is quite harsh for something rather minor, plus I've never driven in the emergency lane before.
  4. Personally I'd fight it, for the sake of a couple of extra dollars if your still found guilty. Did the officer measure the 50m? Can he PROVE it was 50m? Did he witness the potential accident? No, then he can't argue that isn't why you did it. Yes, why didn't he stop at the accident as a witness?
    They can't give you more points penalty I don't think, so it would be more costs at worst. I would like to have him in court to argue with him face to face in front of the crowd and the magistrate personally.
  5. I think the cop just assumed I used the lane as my own personal lane (kinda the way he was). Basically I think there was an assumption of guilt. Even though he would have seen me go around a group of stopping/stationary cars and then pull back into the traffic as soon as possible.

    As much as I would like to fight it, since technically I'm correct, I'm sure it isn't worth the hassle in the end. I'd assume they would take a police officer's word over Joe Public's (even one with a title and perfectly clear driving record). I mean I could have just hit the brakes hard instead. Why didn't I? Dunno.

    I guess if you can make a simple written appeal that is either accepted or refused, then that's what I'd do. Any more and it probably isn't worth the cost, time and effort. I guess this is also a little bit different than a speeding fine as well. There is a lot more of a grey area, but there still seems to be an assumption of guilt.
  6. Bugeater.

    If you rejected the charge on the side of the road, i.e., that you drove in the emergency lane to avoid a collision and not just get around a bank up, then you have an out... but you have to go through the boooorowkratik processes and try your luck.

    The infringement notice has the road rule and the charge. Check the actual road rule (sometimes the cops put the wrong road rule number down and the objection is an easy peasy technical one). Then on the back, look for the "lodge an objection" and follow the instructions.

    THEN write the cop a letter stating the infringement notice number, date, time of the incident, that you have objected to the charge just as you did on the side of the road, and that you would like the police brief of the incident in order to properly defend the matter in the magistrates court. Make sure you have an official JP signed copy of the letter. Send the letter registered with a proof of delivery.

    The cop needs to respond, either with the police brief, or with a letter that the matter has been dealt with (Yay!!).

    If you get the police brief, that means the cop thinks his case is good and the matter goes to a magistrates court. Have a think about representing yourself. You can state your case to the magistrate. You need to present a compelling argument without being a smart alec. Just present the facts. You have the opportunity to question the policeman and query just what he saw, where he was and whether he could have possibly assessed your crash risk the same as you the driver.

    If the cop fails to respond to your letter and it gets to a court case, let the magistrate know you attempted to follow all the right protocols, that you think you have a strong case and whether the magistrate would consider throwing the matter out given the policeman's lack of interest in appearing.

    Good luck!

    (I'm not a solicitor... the above represents my experience a few years ago.)

    Edited for speeellling and readability
  7. The charge is actually something like disregarding an emergency lane sign. I didn't see any such sign, but I assumed there was one somewhere. There is no measurement of distance in the charge. You could do 0.1m or 100km - the charge is the same.
  8. Fight it judges hate there courts being tied up with shit traffic offences.The police procicutor will probably offer u a deal just as your entering court anyway.I have beaten the cops on 3 occations from speed cameras to dangerous driving.Just go for it some judges respect people defending there rights so u might get lucky :grin:
  9. I can see the policeman in the witness box now;

    "Your honour, the defendant was riding too fast and too close to the vehicles ahead of him and then queue jumped the vehicles ahead of him by using the Emergency Lane which is a breach of Road Rule xxx"

    Remember, in court it's your word against his and police officers are well trained in court procedings.

    Good luck with it but weigh up the pro's and con's of the time off and paper work involved in all this vs. just paying up and living with the points before you too far down the contesting it path.
  10. I want to stand up to it on principle, but realistically it seems it isn't worth the hassle of going to court. I'd loose more taking a day off work than the fine.

    At least I can afford it now. Less than a year ago it would have crippled me. Still sucks though.
  11. "Officer, if as you say, you allegedly witnessed me riding to fast and too close to the other vehicles why was I not pulled over at that point and charged with speeding and careless driving?" :grin:
  12. Nup. He'll just withdraw the original TIN and reissue a new one with the correct information.
  13. Bugeater "I see. You must have therefore seen the near accident immediately ahead of me caused by the merging vehicles. Is this correct?"

    Cop, "I didn't witness a near accident"

    "So all you can confirm is that I entered the emergency lane to bypass several cars. Is that correct?"

    Cop, "Yes"

    "But you witnessed me travelling closely to the car ahead?"

    Cop "Yes"

    "What was the colour of the car?"

    Cop "I don't recall".

    "Your statement says you were positioned x m behind and in the next lane, clearly you couldn't be seeing what I was seeing. As far as you know, my actions could have been collision avoidance actions, isn't that right?"

    Cop, "yes, but I had a clear view"

    "Snr Constable, it was peak hour and you weren't immediately behind me. You couldn't have had a clear view, isn't that right?"

    Cop, "I could see over the roof of the cars."

    "So your attention was on me, while trafficing peak hour traffic and looking over the roof over the moving cars... clearly you could not have been seeing what I was seeing, which I perceived to be an impending collision. Isn't that right?"

    Cop, "...yes"

    "Is it reasonable to expect a driver to use the emergency lane to take evasive action to avoid an accident?"

    Cop, "...Yes"

    "Could you have misinterpretted my excursion into the emergency lane then?"

    Cop, "...Yes".

    "Your honour, the senior constable misinterpretted what he saw. He claims I was tailgating, but can't recall the colour of the car. He was behind and to one side in peak hour traffic, but claims to have had a clear view, over the roof tops of the cars, and confirms his focus was on me and not the traffic ahead, so cannot deny that an accident was about to occur..."

    Magistrate. "Enough! Case dismissed. Costs awarded to the defendant. Next!"

    :roll: I've watched too much tv! :LOL:
  14. Righto then. Back to square one and a second objection gets lodged.

  15. Actually thats pretty damn close to how you would question the copper on the stand!!
    All you need to do is convice the Magistrate that Mr Plod "maybe" didnt see all he claimed to have seen and that you had a valid reason for using the lane.

    I agree that writing a polite letter disputing the charge is a good first step.
  16. I'd say that as you have already admitted braking this particular law, the only resort is to build a case that it was necessary to do so to prevent further risk to yourself.
    I'd be appealing for a downgrade of the penalty based on extenuating circumstances. This would be to the body that issued the penalty, not the courts (where I think you've got SFA chance).
    Tell them clearly that you had no intention of travelling in the Emergency lane, but were trying to clear a stopped vehicle. You might argue that you had no idea if the car was stalled, immobile etc. - just that it wasn't moving. Argue that remaining behind it would increase your risk from cars behind you, and that you felt you needed to do something.
    Downgrades are not easy to get, especially for L and P platers, but it might be worth a try.
  17. Is it breaking that law though? If he used the lane to avoid an accident, is that not considered an emergency?
  18. But is it not referred to as an "Emergency Stopping Lane" on all the signs??

    Seeing he didn't stop or possibly even slow down then he did the wrong thing.
  19. You have grounds for an objection, and they are realistic.

    Identify the process, and use it.

    Find out what the process is, and then lodge the appropriate letters.

    be polite, concise, and do not overstate the facts.

    The worst that can happen is what has already happened.
    If it costs you an extra $100 to fight it (respectfully) and that is ok to you, be aware that you can still lose the fight!

    Previous posts are correct. If you have a valid reason, have a go.
  20. Yeah, agree with what your saying. I'm just making the suggestion that he might get a better hearing from the issuing body than from the courts.
    If it goes to court it's his word against the cop. If he appeals to the department responsible they would look at it and make a quick decision without the expense of court (especially if they thought they might LOSE in court). Just an alternative strategy.