By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
It doesn’t take much to work out that if you’re going to speed on the road and you get caught, you’re going to cop a weighty fine and lose a bunch of demerit points.
Indeed, few things sting as much as getting slapped with a speeding ticket and knowing you have to pay up.
Not to mention, driving at even a few kilometres per hour above the speed limit significantly increases the risk of an accident.
Still, for some of us, the need for speed just can’t be denied.
Much like this pigeon in Germany that was flashed by a speed camera after it was caught flying faster than the legal limit for the road.
In February this year, the criminally hasty bird was snapped flapping down a residential street in the small town of Bocholt, western Germany, when it was clocked swooping at almost 45km/h in a 30km/h zone.
A mobile camera unit was automatically triggered by the bird as it zoomed past, catching the avian falling fowl of the law. (Terrible pun intended.)
Bird Behaving Badly: Authorities Publish Photographic Evidence of Pigeon’s Offence
Authorities in the town, situated a short distance from the Dutch border, took some months to fully assess the evidence of the offence.
In early May, after much inspection, they released it – indeed a photograph unmistakably that of the pigeon mid-flight, and in which it was also soaring down the wrong side of the road.
The flight path of the bird was indicated as “on a collision course with vehicles and pedestrians”.
Authorities also stated that even with the speed limit margin of 3km/h allowed in legal cases, the pigeon would have no chance of getting off, as the bird was 12km/h over the limit – a considerable amount.
Nonetheless, they also advised that “city administration does not want to launch a survey of possible witnesses”.
The photo was posted on the town’s Facebook page and quickly went viral.
The bird, seemingly, wasn’t too phased about being caught.
Officials Left Brooding how to Extract the Cash for Speeding Fine from Pigeon
Since the pigeon was travelling at 12km/h over the speed limit, technically, it could be hit with a speeding fine.
Under normal circumstances, the local penalty for speeding within that range is 25 Euro ($40).
However, authorities were left brooding how to extract the cash for the speeding fine.
“Whether, and more particularly how the speedy bird can be made to pay the 25 Euro speeding fine remains to be seen,” the Bocholt Facebook page philosophically said.
Meanwhile, locals joked online that the pigeon was clearly a racing pigeon, and given it is faster than your average courier, perhaps an appropriate punishment for the bird would be community service as a courier pigeon.
“I don’t think he will pay his speeding ticket,” another local wrote.
Speeding Pigeon not the First Bird to be Caught by Traffic Cameras
The speeding pigeon isn’t the first feathered wrongdoer to be captured by traffic cameras.
Earlier in May, seagulls Graeme and Steve gained notoriety after blocking a traffic camera in the United Kingdom.
The gulls parked themselves in front of a camera overlooking the Blackwall Tunnel in East London for two days.
“Our cameras usually give us a bird’s eye view of traffic across London, but we’d like to thank our new colleagues Graeme and Steve for helping out at beak times,” a Transport for London spokesperson told MailOnline.
The Penalties for Speeding in NSW
If it had not been a pigeon and instead a car on the road, the driver would have been slapped with a hefty fine for speeding and a loss of demerit points.
As the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) advises, for full licence holders operating a light vehicle in NSW, exceeding the speed limit by 10km/h and under results in a fine of $119 and 1 demerit point.
However, if you are caught speeding by more than 10km/h but not more than 20km/h, the fine amount jumps to $275 and 3 demerit points.
If you are caught breaking the speed limit by more than 20km/h but not more than 30km/h the penalties become even more weighty with a fine of $472 and 4 demerit points.
If you are caught breaking the speed limit by over 30km/h but not more than 45km/h, you will face a fine of $903 and 5 demerit points with a 3 months licence suspension.
If you’re caught exceeding the speed by over 45km/h, you will face a fine of up to $2,435 and 6 demerit points with a 6 months immediate licence suspension.
For Learners and Provisional licence holders, there is a fine of up to $119 and 4 demerit points for exceeding the speed by over 10km/h and under.
The fine increases to $275 and 4 demerit points for exceeding the speed by over 10km/h but not more than 20km/h for Learners and Provisional licence holders.
The above is also reflected in rule 20 of Road Rules 2014 (NSW).
The RMS outlines a full list of speeding fines and demerit points.
Immediate Licence Suspension by Police for Speeding Offences in NSW
A police officer can issue an immediate licence suspension notice to any driver who exceeds the speed by more than 45km/h.
A police officer may issue an immediate licence suspension notice to a Provisional or Learner licence holder for exceeding the speed by more than 30km/h (except for a camera recorded offence).
A police officer may also issue a licence suspension notice or licence cancelation to a Learner or Provisional licence holder who ends up incurring the threshold number of demerit points within the last 3-years ending on the day he/she last committed a demerit point offence.
Appealing an Immediate Police Suspension
If you are issued with an immediate licence suspension by the police and wish to avoid this suspension, you can do this by appealing the police’s decision to suspend you. You may do this by appealing this to the Local Court under section 267 Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW).
You will have within 28-days to file this appeal from the date you are notified of the police suspension.
A Local Court Magistrate can make any one of the following decisions in respect to this kind of appeal:
- Set aside the police notice of suspension, in which case you will no longer be police suspended; or
- Vary the police suspension, in which case your suspension can be reduced; or
- Dismiss the appeal, in which case you will end up in the original position of the suspension.
The Local Court Magistrate under section 268(5) Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) will vary or set aside the police suspension if satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances justifying the lifting or varying of the suspension.
In determining this, the Magistrate is not permitted to consider the circumstances of the offence.
Further, you can only lodge this kind of appeal if the charge that occasioned the police suspension has not yet been heard and determined in court. (section 268(6) Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW)).
Demerit Point Suspensions for Speeding Offences in NSW
Further, the RMS will issue you with a licence suspension period based on the extent you have incurred the threshold number of demerit points within the requisite preceding 3-year period.
A full licence holder may incur up to 12 demerit points from demerit point traffic offences before being liable to a licence suspension period.
A 3-month licence suspension applies to a full-licence holder for incurring between 13 to 15 demerit points.
A 4-month licence suspension applied to a full-licence holder for incurring between 16 to 19 demerit points.
A 5-month licence suspension applied to a full-licence holder for incurring 20 or more demerit points.
A professional driver can accumulate up to 13 demerit points before being subject to a licence suspension period. (section 33 Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW)).
A Learner or Provisional P1 licence holder can incur up to 3 demerit points before being subject to a licence suspension or cancellation of licence.
A Provisional P2 licence holder can incur up to 6 demerit points before being subject to a licence suspension or cancellation of licence.
The Option to Elect to be of Good Behaviour as Alternative to Demerit Point Suspension
As a full licence driver, you may elect to be on a good behaviour licence for 12-months instead of the demerit point suspension period if you have incurred at least 13 demerit points (or 14 demerit points in the case of a professional driver) within the last 3-year period ending on the day you last committed a demerit point offence (for which demerit point(s) were incurred).
However, if while on the elected 12-month good behaviour period you commit a demerit point offence carrying 2 or more demerit points, the RMS will issue you a notice of licence suspension for twice as long as the period that would have applied if you had not made the good behaviour licence election.
In those circumstances a full-licence driver cannot appeal a licence suspension notice issued from the RMS, whereas Provisional licence drivers can (in order to avoid the suspension period).
The Option to Appeal the RMS Notice of Licence Suspension to Avoid Licence Suspension
If you are a full-licence driver or Provisional licence driver, you may appeal a demerit point suspension issued by the RMS in certain circumstances. A successful appeal here will result in no disqualification period.
A full-licence driver may appeal the demerit point suspension to the Local Court only for offences exceeding the speed by more than 30km/h or 45km/h, whereas a Provisional licence holder can appeal a demerit point suspension for any demerit point offence.
To make this appeal, you may pay the fine. You will then receive an RMS notice of suspension which you may apply to appeal in the Local Court. Here you are appealing the RMS’s decision to suspend your licence.
In that event, the Local Court Magistrate may either:
- Allow the appeal, in which case you will avoid the suspension period; or
- Dismiss the appeal all together, in which case you will be in the original position with the RMS demerit point suspension period; or
- Dismiss the appeal but vary the driver licence suspension period by reducing it. In this event, a Provisional driver will not incur the demerit points, but a full-licence driver will.
This is reflected in section 36 Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW).
The Option to Court-Elect a Speeding Fine to Avoid Demerit Points and Licence Suspension
A Provisional licence holder, Learner licence holder or full licence holder may instead of paying the fine, elect to have the infringement heard in court (‘court-elect’).
Upon court-electing a speeding fine, you can then either enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
If you plead guilty to the speeding charge, the Magistrate in court will proceed to determining the most appropriate sentence penalty for you. If you need more time to prepare, then you may request an adjournment to have the sentence heard on another day.
However, if you are unable to convince the court to give you a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order without conviction, the Magistrate can impose, in addition to a disqualification period, a maximum fine of $3,300 in the case of exceeding speed by more than 45km/h or $2,200 in the case of any other speeding offence. (Rule 10-2 Road Rules 2014 (NSW)).
If you enter a plea of not guilty in court, your case will get adjourned to another court day for hearing. On this day, the Magistrate will hear evidence from both sides before deciding on a guilty or not guilty verdict.
If you are found not guilty, the case will get dismissed. If you’re found guilty by the court, you will be sentenced in the way outlined earlier.
Double Demerit Points
If you have a lust for speeding, note that in NSW, during most holiday periods, the loss of demerit points issued for all speeding offences are doubled.
So, it is therefore even more important to drive cautiously during these periods, particularly with greater police presence on the road too.
Similarly, if you are caught speeding in an operating school zone, this will incur the loss of additional demerit points.
Click on our link to find out if you fit in any of the categories which allow you to apply to have all of your licence disqualifications removed in court.
Our Sydney traffic defence lawyers appear in all court. We offer a free first consultation and fixed fees for most cases.
Contact our 24/7 hotline on (02) 8606 2218.