Can I challenge my speeding fine?

Can you blame your cruise control for your speeding fine?

Can I challenge my speeding fine?

Can you blame your cruise control for your speeding fine? Motoring expert Paul Murrell explains how this reader could potentially successfully challenge a speeding fine.

•••

Q. Jed*
I have recently been issued with a penalty notice for exceeding the speed limit at a fixed camera site at Gaven in Queensland. At this point on the motorway, I always use my cruise control if safe to do so and set it at the stated speed limit of 110 km/h. The infringement notice shows my vehicle in the furthest left-hand lane of the four available (i.e. the slowest) and purports that my vehicle is doing 124 km/h. To the left of my vehicle is shown the converging lanes of the Smith St overpass, with the cab of a large vehicle in the picture moving in front of my vehicle (i.e. overtaking my vehicle). The notice states it is 09.41 on 18/06/2019, which is a Tuesday, when I was travelling to Harbour Town to meet friends at 10.15, which is means I had more than 30 minutes for a trip that requires much less than this. Issues with this notice:

1. With no other vehicles apparent around my car on the motorway, I would most definitely have been using cruise control set at 110 km/h.

2. Who sets their cruise control at 124 km/h?

3. As the notice states the time as 09.41 and my arranged meeting time was 10.15, I had sufficient time to arrive at my destination without needing to exceed the speed limit.

4. I am travelling in the ‘slowest’ lane of the four-lane motorway with no vehicles apparent to the right of my vehicle, which would indicate that I was not overtaking any vehicles on the motorway.

5. The notice shows the cab of what appears to be a semitrailer overtaking my vehicle on the left from the converging road, so I wonder if this vehicle has been issued with an infringement notice in excess of 124 km/h?

I shall not be paying this penalty and will be electing a court hearing. I should appreciate comments from others about this fixed speed camera site and the accuracy of these speed cameras in general.

•••

A. Unfortunately, the news for our reader is almost all bad, as it is for any of us accused of speeding when we dispute the charge. I speak from personal experience when I say that using cruise control is not going to be taken into consideration or accepted as a valid defence. If your cruise control was not able to maintain your car at the set speed, you will be told that it is your responsibility to keep the vehicle under control at all times. Claiming that you could not have been exceeding the speed limit because you were using cruise control will not be accepted, since the authorities are well aware that cruise control is not a failsafe means of maintaining a set speed (and you would have to prove that your cruise control was set to the appropriate speed in any case).

Now, some potentially good news. The large vehicle identified in the photo may provide sufficient grounds for reasonable doubt that it was, in fact, you travelling at 124km/h.

In the first instance, I would respond to the address listed on your infringement notice with a letter (on the rear of the notice, there will be an address for you to challenge the infringement, or at least, put your case for it to be withdrawn). Don’t delay. Send your letter as soon as possible.

In your specific case, I would suggest that your points about cruise control, lack of vehicles in the right-hand lanes and having allowed sufficient time to reach your destination should be included but will have little or no bearing on any decisions a review board makes. Also, any mention of a previously excellent driving record will have no effect (certainly in Queensland; a previously perfect driving record does not mitigate against a speeding or other driving offence, as clearly stated in a letter to a motoring journalist colleague, nor does it help in South Australia as I can attest from personal experience). Whether or not the truck was issued with an infringement notice will also be considered irrelevant.

The only real point in your favour is that there is another (and larger) vehicle in the photograph, and since you are sure you were travelling at the posted speed, the only possible explanation for your receiving an infringement notice is that it was this vehicle that was travelling at 124km/h and your vehicle has been incorrectly identified as the speeding vehicle. In your claim to have the infringement notice withdrawn, and indeed in any subsequent action you take, this will be your best defence.

The most likely response to your letter, sadly, will be a communication from the appropriate authority saying, in essence, “I am satisfied that the alleged offence was committed, and the issue of the notice was justified, therefore my interference in this matter is not warranted.” In other words, “we consider you to be guilty unless you can prove, in a court of law, that you are innocent.” The authority will also tell you that they will not consider any further applications for internal review of the notice.

You have stated that you will elect to have the matter heard in court. Well done! You will need to complete the relevant section on your infringement notice and return it. Make sure you keep copies of all your correspondence. It may sound extreme, but you should consider sending your election to have the matter heard in court by registered post; that way there can be no dispute about your notice having been received.

There is a slight possibility that even asking for the matter to be heard in court will lead to the matter not being pursued, but don’t raise your hopes too high.

If at any time before appearing in court you decide that the whole matter is too onerous or stressful, you can withdraw your objection and pay the fine. There will be no extra costs to pay, even if you (or the police) have requested a number of adjournments. If the matter isn’t heard within 12 months, the matter will be dropped.

Should you decide to challenge the notice in court, as you have suggested you will, be prepared for a long and potentially expensive process. Handling it all yourself is possible, but time consuming. We would strongly suggest you seek legal advice (find a lawyer who will make the first consultation for free). Another source of useful advice and direction is a group called Aussie Speeding Fines. Some of their suggestions are a little extreme, especially since they seem determined to take on the entire system, but for a small fee they will provide you with an ebook and sample letters to use in your defence. You can claim for expenses incurred in defending your case (time off work, legal advice, research material, etc.), but only if you win. Conversely, you may be liable for costs if the decision goes against you, so once again, we strongly recommend seeking legal advice before embarking on the journey.

If you do finally appear in a magistrate’s court, resist the temptation to do your best Perry Mason impersonation. Stay calm and reasoned, and ensure you have all the supporting evidence with you. Hold on to your belief in your innocence and make it clear that you are the person being inconvenienced. Your prime objective is to create a reasonable doubt in the mind of the magistrate that it was not you who committed the offence.

The system is seriously flawed, as you and many tens of thousands of other motorists have discovered. Once again, I can only recommend you seek legal advice before challenging your infringement notice. After that, I wish you the very best of luck in winning your case. Let us know how you go.

* Not his real name

seniordriveraus.com recommends seeking legal advice before taking action. Information contained in this article is for guidance only.

This article first published as Reader enquiry: can I challenge a speeding fine? on www.seniordriveraus.com

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    COMMENTS

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    Hairy
    26th May 2020
    10:19am
    Yes admit your a criminal even if your not’ goverment departments dont give a rats arse.Its all about money.you go to sit in court you get the chair without legs.the laws have made sure of that.there is no fair recourse your a criminal cash cow and thats it.
    Sen.Cit.90
    26th May 2020
    10:36am
    Well said 'Hairy''. I've been a victim twice both traveling through NSW through police traps.
    On the Ball
    26th May 2020
    10:27am
    My wife got off a speeding (camera) fine a while ago.
    She told the truth, that she wasn't aware the speed limit had changed. They took her driving record into account and issued a warning.
    Eddy
    26th May 2020
    3:04pm
    On The Ball, my daughter had an infringement notice withdrawn on the same grounds. The road was originally posted at 60kph and was changed to 50kph. She was able to show that from where she had entered the road and where the speed-camera was positioned there was no sign indicating the revised speed limit. Even though they made the point that 'ignorance is no defence' they accepted her plea and withdrew the infringement notice.
    Knight Templar
    26th May 2020
    10:49am
    I would recommend motorists purchase a quality dashcam or GPS. These provide a video image of your travel, speed, and coordinates ie specific location. The video can be downloaded to your computer and produced in evidence. The downside, however, is that the memory card, depending on its size, records over previous video every 90 minutes or so. If you are unaware that you've been captured by a fixed camera site, it may be weeks before you receive the infringement notice by which time the video taken at the time of the alleged speeding infringement has been over-ridden. It is effective however, if you are aware that you have been photographed by a fixed camera or if pulled over by police with a hand-held radar. Whilst there is no guarantee that it will persuade a Magistrate to dismiss the case, it will certainly cast seeds of doubt in his/her mind as to the accuracy of the police radar/camera.
    Greg
    26th May 2020
    6:28pm
    Dashcams and GPS units are known to not be accurate with their speeds, particularly the dashcams, the circuitry is very cheap and fails to calculate the correct speed fast enough.
    Priscilla
    26th May 2020
    10:52am
    Sadly cruise control cannot be relied upon to keep to the set speed. I use cruise control all the time as I have a 'lead foot'. Some days the cruise control works beautifully, other times it increases speed at the slightest dip in the road and may increase speed by up to 5-6 klm/h going downhill and may also gain speed gooing up-hill. Did write to Honda when I first bought my car and even contemplated trading in my new car for another make to see if they all have the same problem. It would be wonderful to have a vehicle with reliable cruise control!
    Knight Templar
    26th May 2020
    11:15am
    Hi Priscilla, I have owned a number of vehicles with cruise control and unfortunately all gather some speed downhill - albeit 2-5 Km/h and likewise up-hill. Honda is not unique in this regard. Motorists should keep their eyes on the speedo in such circumstances.
    Eddy
    26th May 2020
    3:11pm
    My Mazda cruise control downshifts to a lower gear (has a six speed auto transmission) if my car starts to speed up down hill. Not 100% effective but reasonably reliable to maintain the set speed except if on a particularly steep hill. I suspect not all cruise control are the same.
    Funkee
    26th May 2020
    11:19am
    Paul Murrell raises some good points, and some potentially negative. You've done the right thing by electing to have your day in court, if only more of us would do that. To win any court case, whether it be a speeding fine or a murder trial you only need to prove 'reasonable doubt'. The suggestion to download Aussie Speeding Fines ebook is a good one. It will give you not only an understanding of how things work, but also how to fight, and usually beat these highway robbers. I have used their advice and won, even though they bluffed me all the way to court itself where the Magistrate just simply told me my case had been dismissed as the Police Prosecutor hadn't submited any evidence against me.... win.
    The biggey in your favour is the truck. There is your reasonable doubt right there. Cameras 'notice' the larger objects first, but identify any others in the frame as well. They will not be able to prove which vehicle is doing 124kph if both are in the same frame. If they cannot prove (which they must) which is the speeding vehicle, you win. I presume you have the photo they camera allegedly took of your vehicle. Can you see the truck?
    I personally would not bother with hiring a lawyer. Don't forget their first duty is to the Crown, not you. You can defend yourself if you follow the ebook guidelines and prepare accordingly. Any documents you send to the cops, do by registered post.. If they pass you over to SPERS (which they may) you can fight that too. I did, and they immediately withdrew me from SPERS as my case had not been heard. They will bluff you at every turn but armed with knowledge from the ebook you can beat them at their own game. Good luck.
    Eddy
    26th May 2020
    3:26pm
    I got a legitimate fine in Victoria, the road went from 70kph to 50kph and I did not notice the sign. However the photo I was sent had all the background obliterated, only showing my vehicle. I checked the road later and saw the sign was there so I accepted it as a 'fair cop'. I asked about the photo and was told that 'privacy issues' obliged them to obscure all background, however if I wanted the actual untouched photo it only available if I chose to contest the matter in court and would cost me. If Jed had been 'nabbed' in Victoria the truck would not have been shown. Lucky Jed.
    MikeAC
    26th May 2020
    12:11pm
    As a recently retired Police officer(from another jurisdiction) who for a number of years reviewed applications for the withdrawal of speeding/ red light infringements these fines are known as strict liability offences requiring the prosecution to only prove that an offence was committed and that you were the driver of the vehicle The digital images captured at the time will comprise the prosecution case as well certificates certifying that the speed camera had been tested within the legislated time frame and was found to be operating correctly There is no point challenging the correct operation of the camera as they are regularly checked Fixed speed cameras in my jurisdiction are set up to monitor certain lanes and the images produced should include which lane your vehicle was in when detected so if you claim that it was the large truck was the vehicle travelling at 124kmh bear this fact in mind when trying to convince a Magistrate of your argument Also bear in mind that many fixed speed cameras also record video of the offences they detect and this would certainly impact any claim that your vehicle wasn’t speeding if produced by the prosecution Lastly I would not use Aussie Speeding Fine letter templates to try and apply to have any infringement withdrawn as they are not worth what you pay for them and are in my experience completely In-accurate In your situation I would apply to the administering authority to review your fine on (I assume ) your hitherto unblemished driving record When I was reviewing fines I would have considered withdrawing it for being only 14kmh over the posted limit with at least 10 yrs driving experience I would advise to try this avenue first ( assuming that you can in your jurisdiction ) before electing to have it heard in Court
    wordsmith
    26th May 2020
    3:17pm
    With the greatest of respect, I would love to know which jurisdiction you were responsible for. I received a speeding fine for travelling at 7km/h over the speed limit. I was on cruise control set at the speed limit; it was 4.45am and there were no other vehicles, people or animals in the vicinity (as confirmed by my dash cam); the camera was located at the bottom of a long downhill grade. I pointed these factors out in my appeal, as well as my umblemished driving record of more than 30 years. The response was terse and almost identical to the one in the article: none of those factors has any bearing on the case and the fine stands.
    Greg
    26th May 2020
    6:30pm
    wordsmith - if there's a downhill there is a brake you can use.
    grandpa Dave
    26th May 2020
    4:58pm
    Why so much hullaballoo about setting the cruise control at the speed limit. Why not 5kph below that? New Zealand roads have a sign that say "100 KMH - IT"S A LIMIT NOT A CHALLENGE". Most of us are retired and really do not need to rush everywhere any more.

    "Better to be late than DEAD on time" has been a common saying for years.
    Greg
    26th May 2020
    6:32pm
    The vast majority of vehicles have an incorrect speedo anyway, it will show faster than the actual speed. Mine shows 100 but the actual is 97, so I set my cruise control to 101 (98) and that allows for the occasional over speeds.
    Funkee
    26th May 2020
    6:27pm
    Mikeb - I beg to differ. The Aussie Speeding Fines ebook and the whole website contains extremely valuable information for any wishing to contest a fine, in any state of Oz. I have had success and I know of many others who, when following the guidelines had their day in court and had a win, often with costs as well. You may be retired but you haven't lost the cop mentality, that much is obvious. I suspect your days as a cop have permanently coloured your view on many matters. You say speed cameras are checked regularly. In your old jurisdiction they may be, but in QLD they are not. You will know that every speed camera is supposed to go to either the CSIRO or any other NATA authourised body for testing each 6 months , and if if they comply they are issued with a pattern number. This almost never happens in QLD and as a consequence speed cameras are being used unlawfully to convict motorists on a daily basis. A pattern number is different and distinct from calibration and we've all heard the hackneyed old line "it was calibrated this morning". Most cops I have spoken to about this don't even know of this requirement, and indeed you may not either, but it stands. On top of that they are very often used in a manner that does not comply with the manufacturers manual of operation. So there is reason to challenge the accuracy of these cameras, just be well armed with the right information, go to aussiespeedingfines.com.au and have a good look at what they present and get the ebook if you want. The testimonials of success now number in the 1000's, and that Mikeb is something you cannot contest.
    Greg
    26th May 2020
    6:38pm
    Using the excuse that it my have been the truck is garbage - the fixed speed cameras in QLD use sensors embedded into the road surface, when the vehicle goes over the TWO sensors the calculation is made as to how long it took to go over both and a speed is calculated.

    Just because there's a truck in the photo is irrelevant, he was not driving over the sensors which recorded the speed.
    Couldabeen
    30th May 2020
    11:11am
    Greg, I'd like to know where you got that information. I know of at least seven fixed speed cameras in SE Qld that do not use any permanently embedded sensing, but rely entirely on radar sensing and that photo for recording. The marks that are painted on the road are for the cross referencing from the sequence of photos that are taken to confirm the speed.
    The transportable "robo cameras" work purely on their radar sensing with no local physical connections.
    Typically radar systems work on the larger more reflective faster target for their lock on.
    Greg
    30th May 2020
    3:13pm
    Yep okay, I had a look at the one in question - there are 5 lanes of traffic, cameras are mounted on the reverse side of the bridge and there are 5 cameras, one for each lane, they would be lane specific obviously and trying to say the truck a few lanes over was the real target would be laughed at.
    Grey Voter
    26th May 2020
    7:35pm
    On 4 October 2019 I was issued with a speeding fine for allegedly doing 72 in a 60 zone in WERRIBEE (vICTORIA) on 27 September 2019. When I looked at the picture online, I found a weird looking image with orange coloured native trees and showing a grey car (mine is bright blue) with illegible regio plates. Underneath was a fine print saying that this was a low resolution image but the police hold a better image. I contested the fine, also telling them I am willing to pay the fine on seeing the better image. This was rejected and I eventually opted for a court hearing which was scheduled for 4 May 2020.This has now been re-scheduled for 23 November 2020 because of COVID19. With the court paperwork, the better image was annexed and when I called to offer to pay the fine, Fines Victoria told me the matter is no longer in their hands.I WILL APPRECIATE COMMENTS / ADVICE WHAT TO DO IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.
    wordsmith
    27th May 2020
    11:41am
    Hi Grey Voter. Aussie Speeding Fines have a whole raft of suggestions in this instance, including demanding proof that the image could not have been altered -- something almost impossible for the prosecution to prove. You are undergoing the usual bluff and bluster approach to try and browbeat you into paying the fine. I am sure you have a right to see the photo that will be used to prove it was your car and if, in hi res, it is still a grey car with illegible number plates, you have a strong case. One other point: as I understand it, your case has to be heard within a specific time frame and if not, it will be dismissed. Good luck with your court case.
    Funkee
    27th May 2020
    6:27pm
    Grey Voter.... spot on mate. I am fairly sure that photos are no longer acceptable as evidence in court due to the ease with which they can be tampered.... and in this case they have already tampered with it so I'd say you are on the right path. Insist on a copy of the original hi def pic at the very least. But do visit Aussie Speeding Fines, they cover a lot more than just speeding fines. You will soon see how often the cops act illegally and rely on our ignorance to get away with it.
    Roy R
    27th May 2020
    7:23am
    I don't understand how governments can be allowed to abuse the "Innocent Until Proven Guilty Beyond All Reasonable Doubt" principal of British Justice. I know that, legally, these may be regulations as opposed to legislations but I think the rule of British Justice should still apply. The most rediculous thing is, in Victoria at least, vehicle speed detectors are considered to be Infallable Electronic Devices." What bull!
    Roy R
    27th May 2020
    7:42am
    I use cruise control often, however, I keep an eye on the set speed via GPS. Depending on the vehicle involved, you will find that your in dash speedo reads fast. In fact, since 2006(?) I think it has been part of the ADR's that speedos must NOT read slow. I have only been aware of two or three speedos that read accurately and one that read slow since 1970. Add to this that the law allows you to fit larger wheels and tyres to a vehicle (up to 10 to 20mm depending on state) which affects your speedo reading and many vehicles have different wheel and tyre sizes available over their model range, the speedo must be calibrated to allow for the largest wheel/tyre combination allowed by law. This speedo error, on a standard model, is often up to 10 percent, ie if you dhow 100 kph you actual speed is only 90 kph.
    Therefore taking into account the margin of error that the police allow plus the allowance they give for the thickness of the speedo needle, if you are pinged at 124 kph, you would have had to be doing at least 127 kph and your speedo would have shown yyour speed as upto 138 kph.
    Makes you think, does it not?
    Blossom
    28th May 2020
    10:53pm
    I know somebody who alledgedly was doing 10km over the speed limit going up a hill on a little old motor scooter - not even a motor bike strength motor. It won't do the speed alledged going at its full speed. Not even down deep descent. It was a quiet time oi day and the person was travelling in the far left lane so no traffic was being delayed. The Police were told to take it for a ride and see if they could get it up to even near the speed limit. The case was dismissed. I wonder how many others were "caught" by that faulty camera
    ex PS
    30th May 2020
    7:40pm
    The only problem, is proving that you were using cruise control at the time, and that it was set at a legal speed. If you can't, you have no case.


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