Have you been sent an infringement notice (fine) for not stopping at a red light camera in NSW?
Don’t worry you’re not alone, thousands of people each month are caught for being on the wrong side of the law due to red light camera fines, and many of those people are not sure how to proceed forward. The right to challenge the allegation is always available, but winning the challenge is another matter.
The point of this blog is to explain and examine the avenues available to the public regarding red light camera fines, and how an experienced lawyer can assist you staying on the road afterwards.
How does the red light speed camera in NSW work?
Red light cameras are connected to select traffic lights and use individual sensors that monitor the traffic in all directions.
A camera is immediately activated if the vehicles tires go over the ‘stop’ line, which is the first unbroken white line at the front of the intersection.
If your car drives over this stop line during a red light, the camera will automatically trigger into action and take 2 snapshots of the back of your vehicle, capturing details such as the:
• Number Plate
• Speed of vehicle
• Direction of travel
These images are then used by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to issue you the dreaded fine via mail, which can take up to two weeks roughly to arrive.
The fine after being sent is kept track of by the State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO).
You were caught by a red light camera?
Once you’ve triggered the red light camera there is nothing you can do to change it.
A red light camera fine is a hefty $439 fine and a total of 3 demerit points taken from your license (or double demerits if over a long weekend/holiday periods).
A common myth people tend to believe is that if the fine is sent to the wrong address you can get out of the charges, this is definitely not the case, in fact, you can be penalized even further by the RMS for not updating your address.
So double check that your current address is available to the RMS by logging on to the website or visiting a local registry.
Request to review the fine
A driver can ask for a review of the offence if they believe it has been unjustly issued for reasons such as for example:
• Your safety would have been at risk
• The wrong vehicle was fined
To ask for a review the driver must go through SDRO, who will inspect the camera evidence and take your review grounds into account, if the review comes back unchanged, then the only other option for the driver is to physically take the situation to the courts.
Taking the matter to court
For any matter taken to court, it must be backed up by evidence on the driver’s behalf for the case to be successful,
Items useful for evidence (depending on the claim) can be:
• Dash cam footage
• Testimonials from witnesses
• Relevant documents
Going to court can often be a nerve racking time, especially for somebody who has no previous experience within the court room, traffic lawyers can be invaluable in these areas and are able to take small pieces of information you have for your case, and explain them so the court can see the bigger picture.
In some cases the real issue is that the driver acknowledges the action of running a red light but doesn’t want to lose their license (which can result from a loss of demerit points).
When possible suspension of license is the problem, the driver can appeal to the court for leniency in this matter on the grounds for example:
• Unable to meet work commitments
• Financial hardship due to being unable to meet work commitments
• Family commitments
• Carer Commitments
For some people, not being able to drive is a huge drawback in most areas of life and can possibly place that driver in hardship for the duration of the suspension. Being granted leniency can often be under restricted conditions, such as for example, a good behavior bond for 3 months or longer.
While restricted conditions are not exactly ideal, it is definitely a more positive inconvenience than losing your license entirely. When it comes to requesting this type of appeal, it is vital that the court views the driver as more than just an offender, and instead, takes the good character of the person outside of this fine into account.
Appealing for leniency in court is also an area where having a qualified lawyer by your side can make all the difference.
An experienced solicitor in traffic law can be invaluable in these cases, by representing the client in a way that shows the court the personal life impact of the issue and the necessity for the case to be appealed.
What if I wasn’t the one driving?
This is often the case with swapping drivers and borrowing cars, drivers often find themselves with a red light penalty notice for their vehicle, but the driver wasn’t them.
If your penalty notice fits this description, then you don’t need to be concerned regarding the impending fine, simply follow the instructions on the back of your notice, which states the steps to take when you are not the driver at fault, though be conscious of the timeframes stipulated on your penalty notice, you will only have a limited to take action.
These steps will be in the form of a statutory declaration, where you fill out the details of the driver that committed the offense, therefore removing the fine from your record. Remember it is a very serious matter to give false information to the SDRO, in doing so could hold even further penalties. It is always beneficial to get a second opinion, so if you are in doubt of where to start, contact an qualified lawyer to discuss your options today.