All speed camera fines in doubt
August 10, 2005
EVERY fine issued by speed cameras could be invalid, after the Roads and Traffic Authority admitted yesterday it could not prove the authenticity of the pictures they take.
In a double blow to the RTA, The Daily Telegraph can also reveal that Sydney Harbour Tunnel cameras monitoring toll cheats have been switched off for at least three years - and no penalties handed out.
The revelation came as Sydney magistrate Lawrence Lawson threw out a speeding case after the RTA said it had no evidence that an image from a camera had not been doctored.
Mr Lawson had adjourned the case in June, giving the RTA eight weeks to produce an expert to prove pictures from a speed camera on Carlingford Rd, Epping, had not been altered after they were taken.
He said it was a matter of public interest and the RTA should be given time to back up its case.
But RTA lawyers yesterday told Hornsby Local Court they could not find an expert and the case was thrown out, with $3300 in legal costs awarded to the motorist, a man allegedly caught speeding through a school zone on November 18 last year.
Lawyer Dennis Miralis, who has won several high-profile cases against the RTA involving speeding motorists, said the case proved a public inquiry into speed cameras was desperately needed.
"The integrity of all speed camera offences has been thrown into serious doubt and it appears that the RTA is unable to prove any contested speed camera matter because of a lack of admissible evidence," Mr Miralis said.
The case revolved around the integrity of a mathematical MD5 algorithm published on each picture and used as a security measure to prove pictures have not been doctored after they have been taken.
Mr Miralis argued that the RTA had to prove the algorithm it used was accurate and could not be tampered with. He said: "It is our understanding that since speed cameras were introduced approximately 15 years ago on NSW roads, not one single speed camera photograph has been capable of proving an offence."
The NSW Law Society said the judgment could "open the doors" for other drivers caught by speed cameras to mount the same defence.