Policing amber

5 04 2012

The local police are on a money-making drive. They especially like hanging around traffic lights, called robots in this country, catching drivers running the lights. That in itself is not a big deal except they are looking for drivers going through amber lights – which is not illegal! Then they use a tactic of intimidation and the public’s lack of legal knowledge and a reluctance to go to court to issue a spot, i.e. on-the-spot*, fine of $20.

I was caught recently and even if I wanted to I could not have stopped in time for the light change – it would have left me smack in the middle of the intersection. The police were uninterested in discussing the issue and I realised arguing that an amber light was there to warn one of the impending change to red when of course one MUST stop was pointless. I did realise too late that their procedure was unusual. I was asked for my driver’s licence and then if I had $20 to pay the fine. They waited while I found the money before writing anything on the Admission of Guilt form.If it really was an offence to run an amber light why not just make out the fine form there and then?

I spent the rest of the day fuming and mentioned the incident to Gordon whilst paying my rent on the way home. He said “I refused and took it to court. I defended myself and won the case. It only cost me my time”. It does say very clearly on the top of the form that one has the right to be heard in court (see the highlighting in the image below) but I am sure that the vast majority of drivers know that paying $20 is much less hassle than having to go to court so the police take advantage of this. So next time I am not letting them get away with this!

*The spot fine system is under review as in the past one could pay within a certain time period at any police station. This would also presumably give the defendant time to research the legality of the “infringement”.

Admission of Guilt form. The highlighting is mine.