I want to challenge a speeding fine I got last week in the mail.
I got a speeding ticket in the mail claiming I was doing 110 kilometres per hour in a 100 kilometre zone. This was not the case so either the speed camera was faulty or my speedometer is faulty. What is the process if I want to prove my innocence?
The first thing to do is check the accuracy of your speedometer by getting it calibrated..
If a speedometer is not accurate, it could display a lower speed than the vehicle is actually travelling at, thus causing drivers to believe they are not speeding when in fact they are. This effect can occur if a speedometer under-reads true speed.
A speedo over-reads if it displays 100kmh when the vehicle’s actual speed is 90kmh.
A speedo under-reads if it displays 100kmh when the vehicle’s actual speed is 110kmh.
Up until July 2006 the Australian Design Rules required new cars to have speedos that are accurate to within 10% of actual speed. The current Rules disallow under-reading, and permit over-reading by up to 4kmh + 10%.
If your speedometer is faulty, the process to follow depends on the State you were charged in..
For example, in Victoria, the court can consider evidence of how fast your vehicle was going. It can not accept evidence of how fast you thought it was going.
If you want to argue a fauly speedometer, you will need a relatively new car (factory configuration, not worn out), an engineer’s report that shows how much the speedo under-reads, the opinion of an expert to say that at the time when the vehicle was being driven at the speed detected by the police, the vehicle’s speedo displayed a speed that was within the speed limit, and evidence from the driver to say that he had an honest and reasonable belief that at the time of driving he believed his speedo was accurate, and that it displayed a speed within the speed limit at the time of the offence and that he relied on his speedo to determine what speed he was driving at.
However, a court is unlikely to accept this defence if your actual speed was so high that even an inaccurate speedo would have displayed an illegal speed, or if you did not have good reason to trust your speedo was accurate, or if you can not prove your speedo is in fact under-reading.
Before you embark on court proceedings in a case like this, you might wish to try writing to any Penalty Review Board in the State where the alleged offence occurred, enclosing a copy of the engineers report and calibration test results, and ask them kindly to withdraw the notice.
If you believe the speed camera is faulty, and particularly if your licence is at risk, then it may be worthwhile to take the case the court because it is always possible to avoid licence loss if the case is properly handled.
However, it is not easy to defend speed camera cases. Sometimes expert evidence is relied upon to cast doubt on the accuracy of the speed reading. In almost every case it is not necessary for drivers to prove what speed they were travelling at. The police have the obligation of proving the case against the defendant.
Nevertheless, disproving a speeding fine is a difficult task for drivers.
Given your speeding offence is alleged to have been recorded by electronic means, it is difficult to succeed unless you’re able to cast a doubt about the accuracy of the device, or the manner in which the device was operated.
Challenging speeding fines also tend to be quite expensive because of the reliance on experts. You have to weigh up the value in spending thousands of dollars on a lawsuit versus paying the fine.
If you had a person with you in your vehicle to confirm that you were not travelling at the estimated speed, then it might be worthwhile challenging the speeding fine.
At the end of the day it is a question of what is more important – Principle or your Pocket.