SA-BEST calls on Police Commissioner to waive South Eastern Freeway speeding fines
SA-BEST today urged Police Commissioner, Grant Stevens, to “do the right thing” and retrospectively withdraw unpaid speeding fines and reverse automatic licence disqualifications issued to unintended victims of the State Government laws on speeding truck and bus drivers on a stretch of the notorious South Eastern Freeway.
SA-BEST MLC and Transport and Infrastructure spokesperson, Frank Pangallo, said hundreds of motorists had had their licences automatically disqualified – some for up to four years - and fined thousands of dollars as a result of “unintended consequences” of the new road rules which came into force in May last year.
Commissioner Stevens revealed in an interview on ABC radio this week that he was seeking legal advice on his ability to have the fines withdrawn.
Commissioner Steven said: “I have been advised there is a section that does allow for discretion on my part. It hasn’t been used before and it is complex, so I’m getting some legal advice in relation to what my position is on that and how we might deal with it…and I don’t think there’s really been a set of circumstances like what we saw with the changing of the law and the impact it had on some drivers.”
He also said: “People have been issued fines, some people have already served their licence disqualification … I don’t have the specifics with me but we did consider what the implications were for our expiation system, the courts, in terms of making the law retrospective and we provided that advice to the Government and they took that on board and made a decision.”
Commissioner Stevens went on to say: “I wouldn’t want to create any false hope if it’s not there … we are certainly having a look at it and I am getting advice.”
Frank said: “The laws introduced by the State Government were a shambles from Day One – and it took amendments by SA-BEST to try and fix them last December.
“It’s only fair and reasonable now that motorists who were unfairly impacted by them have their fines and automatic licence disqualifications withdrawn,” he said.
“No matter how complex the Commissioner and the Transport Minister believe that is, it has to happen – people’s lives have been severely and unnecessarily impacted by what can only be described as bad law making.
“SA-BEST had pleaded with the Transport Minister and Police Commissioner to do the right thing and ensure those motorists unjustly hit by the flawed earlier laws were given a reprieve, but that fell on deaf ears.
“It now appears the Police Commissioner does have the discretion to waive speeding fines under a section of the Road Traffic Act.”
Frank said the tough penalties - including automatic licence suspension - were introduced by the State Government in an attempt to stop trucks and buses speeding on the dangerous downtrack stretch of the South Eastern Freeway from Crafers to the intersection of Portrush, Cross and Glen Osmond roads.
Truck and bus drivers caught exceeding the 60km/h speed limit on that section of road had faced fines of $1036, a loss of six demerit points and an automatic six-month licence disqualification for a first offence.
If the driver elected to fight the case in court and lost, the licence disqualification would have been doubled to 12 months.
Under SA-BEST’s amendments, drivers no longer face automatic licence suspensions for a first offence, while the fine paid by a business owner on behalf of their driver/staff member has been slashed from $25,000 to $5000.
“Some drivers are facing licence losses of up to four years,” Frank said.
“While I am heartened Commissioner Stevens is seeking legal advice about taking unprecedented action that he himself says hasn’t been used before and is complex, I implore him to do the right thing – whatever it takes and however complex it might be – to ensure the unintended victims of the government’s crackdown on speeding truck and bus drivers get the reprieve they deserve.”