A man went to court this week to challenge a $289 fine for infringing Victorian road rules. He got a little bit of good news as the fine was reduced to $150, but he is still out of pocket and has had three demerit points added to his license.
Clearly from the size of the penalty it was not a particularly serious offence. So was the driver just a little bit over the speed limit, or making a turn without indicating? No, the man in question, Max Lichenbaum, is a motorbike rider and his offence was, believe it or not, having a camera attached to his helmet. Not that having a camera in your helmet is necessarily an offence, but apparently this particular camera attachment did not comply with the arbitrary standards imposed by VicRoads.
The defendant’s main argument against the fine was that it was impossible to know what VicRoads’ standards are. Mr Lichenbaum’s lawyers made valiant attempts to get hold of the standards but could not do so, either by phone or by visiting the VicRoads offices. However, while the magistrate accepted the standards were currently not accessible to the public, he could not be sure that this was the case at the time of the offence in March 2014. They may have been available in a library which was open to the public on the ground floor of the VicRoads building but which has subsequently closed.
Clearly there is a problem here, both with a specific lack of transparency about these rules, but also with the fact that so many aspects of modern life are subject to laws, regulations and standards. Continue Reading →