Speeding fines may come to sudden halt
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August 24, 2006
EVERY speed camera fine issued by the Roads and Traffic Authority since 1999 may be invalid, after a judge ruled the photos used to convict drivers were meaningless.
The decision in the Sydney District Court by Judge John Nicholson, SC, could cost the State Government hundreds of millions of dollars, said Dennis Miralis, the solicitor who won the case.
The authority had sought to convict his client, David Baldock, of Castlecrag, of driving at 93kmh in an 80kmh zone on the M5 at Bardwell Park in June last year, Mr Miralis said. But Judge Nicholson ruled that the photograph provided by the authority was not valid evidence.
He found that to be given weight as evidence the digital cameras that took the photos had to be calibrated every day. The authority calibrated its cameras once a year, Mr Miralis said.
He said every person convicted on such evidence since 1999 - when digital cameras came in - had been improperly convicted.
"The biggest problem the RTA face is how they're going to run these prosecutions in the future," Mr Miralis said.
He said he would ask the Attorney-General's department to hold an inquiry into how the authority's lawyers had conducted their court cases.
The authority said its cameras were accurate and denied the court's decision had set a precedent. Every camera was subject to "comprehensive" tests, a spokesman said. The authority would consider an appeal.
In March Mr Miralis won an appeal in the Supreme Court against the authority over a speed camera photo that did not have the proper "security indicators". The court overturned his client's $75 fine.
In February the authority lost another appeal when the Supreme Court said a speed camera fine had wrongly stipulated which lane the motorist was using.
There are 113 fixed speed cameras in NSW. Last year $57.3 million worth of speed camera fines were issued, up from $50.9 million in 2004 and $41.6 million in 2003.