Most motorists do not realise that traffic offences are criminal matters and ultimately they can go to jail for them. The good part is that this requires the prosecution to carry the full burden of proof against motorists and this is not easy, especially in camera offences where the identity of the driver has not been established. Here is an excerpt from the Victorian Government website.
So that absolutely nails the question of whether traffic offences are criminal offences, simply because a magistrate can jail a person for not paying a traffic fine. That means that all the legal rights granted to an accused person have to be observed and no accused persons can be penalised for upholding their legal rights, such as refusing to cooperate with authorities.
In South Australia, A CARR subscriber has reported that if motorists decide to challenge traffic offences, they are recorded as having criminal matters pending against them. That again proves that accused persons have all the legal rights available to them to force the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, including proving the identity of the driver. However, the vehicle owners are under no legal or other obligation to admit to being the drivers or nominating anybody else as the drivers, or even providing any form of documentation such as statutory declarations or affidavits.
In NSW, the standard traffic penalty notice issued by the State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) states the following:
That proves beyond a shadow of doubt that traffic infringements are breaches of criminal law and therefore the entire burden of proof rests with the Crown and the obligation is there for the Crown to prove BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT that a person actually committed the offence. They cannot make a person "responsible" for an offence merely because they have a photo of his car's number plate, but this is how state governments have perverted the law in most states.
Furthermore, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has the following in a document called Burden Of Proof.
There it is, straight from the ALRC - THE PROSECUTION BEARS THE BURDEN OF PROOF. So how the hell can somebody whose car was pinged by a speed camera be prosecuted and even found guilty of the offence when the prosecution cannot offer a shred of evidence to prove that the person was driving the car at the time? It is beyond the bounds of incredulity that state governments have been getting away with prosecuting motorists of speed camera offences without being able to offer any evidence against them, apart from the fact that they owned the vehicles that were pinged. This is a completely corruption of Australian criminal law and has to be resisted at every opportunity.
Because speed and red light cameras do not provide any evidence as to who was driving a vehicle that was photographed by those cameras, all Australian states have passed laws to enable them to run their camera infringements rackets by fooling people into believing that they have to incriminate themselves or pay fines without being convicted of any offence. However, there are three important elements that can be used to negate literally every attempt made by those states to use those unsustainable pretend laws to coerce people into paying fines by using penalty notices and laws that blatantly and illegally violate the Constitutional rights of people.
Vehicle owners are under no obligation to notify the infringement bureau that they wish to contest the infringement in court. That is the task of the infringement bureau, whether they choose to try and prosecute a vehicle owner without any evidence as to the driver's identity, or not. Any vehicle owner who receives a camera infringement notice should never ever cooperate with the infringement bureau in any way or provide anything whatsoever.
Those crucial items alone should destroy any attempts for state laws to breach Constitutional and other legal rights of an accused person. So all those threats of penalties, demerit points and licence suspension are nothing more than acts of intimidation and if any of them are carried out prior to the conviction in court of the accused person, they are highly illegal. Anybody who refuses to comply with a penalty notice and is threatened with these actions should immediately send a strong letter to the issuer of the penalty notice and tell them in no uncertain terms that if they are penalised in any way, shape or form PRIOR to conviction for the alleged offence by a court of competent jurisdiction, the issuer will be guilty of committing serious offences against the Australian Constitution and the Imperial Acts Application Act, with serious consequences for them.
Most motorists who receive an infringement notice will opt to just pay the fine, even when they know that they have not committed an offence, because they understand that the legal system imposed by the states is geared to make it extremely difficult to fight these bookings, even if they are unjustified. The entire infringement system is a monstrous scam and the way that it is operated would be a criminal offence if any person or company did the same.
What the state governments do with infringement notices is nothing more than demanding money with menaces. They send those tickets out to motorists and demand that they either pay up or else. The tickets are accompanied by dire threats of fines and even harsher penalties if the recipients do not pay up at the point of the legal gun. But the truth is that these infringement notices can be dealt with quite easily and state governments really don't like people who not only see through their attempts at extortion, but use the law to beat them.
Using the NSW Office of State Revenue State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) as the example here quickly reveals the extent of the scam. The first thing that one sees on the website is the banner: "Act now to avoid extra costs. It is an offence to provide false information." This is a blatant lie, because extra costs cannot be imposed on top of a penalty if a person is found guilty of it. Yes, it may be an offence to provide false information, but the trick is to not provide any information at all. No person is obliged to provide anything that may tend to incriminate them, so if you don't provide any information at all, then they can't prosecute you.
The website states that: "If you receive a penalty notice you must choose from the following options - Pay the fine or Name the driver or Request a review or Go to court." Again, this is utter baloney. Let's look closer at these so-called options.
As traffic offences are criminal offences, drivers can be imprisoned for failing to pay fines that are imposed. Of course this means that drivers are afforded all the protections of our legal system as follows:
If you are pulled over by police for speeding, the cop will obviously ascertain your identity, therefore your only way to beat the ticket is to prove that it was issued by a defective speed measuring device or that the cop did not operate the device properly or a number of other factors. However, if you are booked by a speed camera, then your identity cannot be ascertained by the infringement bureau and this is very important to understand.
In regard to camera infringements, on the NSW SDRO website, it states: "Images taken are considered prima facia evidence." Fair enough, but evidence of what? The only prima facie evidence from that camera is a photo of a vehicle and maybe the speed and date stamped on it. There is no evidence as to who was the driver and until the infringement bureau can prove that, it has no case.
Then come the hollow threats and warnings of dire penalties. The website states: "Penalty notices for camera-detected offences are sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. The registered owner of the vehicle is responsible for the offence unless they tell us the name and details of the person who was in charge of the vehicle at the time of the offence." That is utter bullshit, because no person can be held responsible for an offence until he is convicted of it in a duly convened court of law. It is no different than the infringement bureau trying to make a person responsible for a murder with the only evidence being that his axe was used to commit the crime. The truth is that the prosecution has to positively establish the identity of the driver at the time of the offence, but the owner of the vehicle has no obligation to admit to being the driver, because of his legal right to silence.
As for the registered owner being obliged to inform the infringement bureau of the name and details of the person who was in charge of the vehicle at the time of the offence, that's another load of bullshit. The vehicle owner, being the accused party, has the right to silence and the right to refuse to provide anything that will tend to incriminate him. So he is under no obligation to tell the infringement bureau anything except where to stick their infringement notice and he cannot be penalised for such refusal.
The website continues and states: "If another person was responsible, the registered owner should complete and return the statutory declaration (received with the penalty notice or downloaded from www.sdro.nsw.gov.au) nominating this person by the due date on the penalty reminder notice. If the vehicle is registered in a company or organisation name, an authorised representative of the company or organisation must nominate the actual driver responsible for the offence." The bottom line is that nobody is obliged to rat out another person for an offence. Nobody is obliged to provide a statutory declaration or affidavit for anything whatsoever. We all have the legal right to silence and that's all there is to it and we cannot be penalised for upholding our legal rights.
The website states: "SDRO issues an additional fine of more than $1200 for companies/organisations for a first offence and over $3000 for a second and subsequent offence. Fines of over $590 can be issued to individuals who fail to nominate the driver responsible by the due date on the penalty reminder notice. Courts may issue fines of up to $11,000." Sure, that is what the website says, but it fails to mention that a person has the legal right to silence and cannot be penalised for upholding it. So if a person refuses to provide a statutory declaration or make any admissions, then he cannot be fined for upholding his legal rights.
It is most important that once you receive a camera-based infringement notice, that you take steps to completely negate it and beat it.
WARNING - When you get the infringement notice, you will receive an offer for you to ask for a review of the infringement. This sounds tempting, especially if you have not committed a traffic offence for a long time. But BEWARE. If you apply for that review, you have to provide details and those details are a CONFESSION that you committed the offence. So if they knock back your application and you decide to take it to court, then you cannot demand that the prosecution prove that you were the driver, because you ADMITTED it on the review application. So DO NOT ask for that review, no matter how tempting it sounds, because it's a scam to get you to confess to the offence in writing and you have no hope in fighting it in court. So this is what you should do.
So this is what you should do if you are every booked by a speed or red light camera or in any circumstance where you receive an infringement notice without being identified. Fight it all the way, because unless the prosecution can identify you as the driver BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT - they are the operative words - then they have no case, despite the stupid and unsustainable “deeming” laws.
A number of people who have replied to the infringement bureau using the CARR Camera Infringement Letter have received responses from infringement bureaus stating that what was sent to them were templates. Sure, the CARR Camera Infringement Letter could be considered to be a template, but so what? It is just as valid as a handwritten letter making the same legal points.
In fact, this "template" letter has been responsible for a number of camera offences having to be withdrawn after various infringement bureaus realised that the recipients of those infringements would not be fooled or coerced into paying penalties unless the offences against them could be proven beyond reasonable doubt with hard evidence as to the identity of the actual driver and the following of due process of law, not just sending out notices demanding money with menaces.
In any case, infringement notices, reminder notices and other correspondence from infringement bureaus are just templates and form letters, so those accusations from those infringement bureaus about people sending :"templates" such as the CARR Camera Infringement Letter haven't got a leg to stand on. They are doing exactly the same.
Any day of the week, you can go to any court and see magistrates upholding traffic infringements and then on top of the actual fines, they impose costs. However, according to a federal law, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Act 1986, this is clearly illegal, as follows.
So there it is in black and white. If you are convicted of any offence, whether it be speeding, littering or any other offence, this federal act states beyond any ambiguity that any costs added to the original penalty are unlawful. If you find yourself in the position of losing a court challenge and the magistrate imposes costs against you, just produce the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Act 1986 with Article 15 of the Covenant On Civil and Political Rights and tell the magistrate that the imposition of any costs is unlawful under a federal law that overrides all state laws.
So if you get a camera-detected infringement notice, treat it with the contempt it deserves. Don't ignore it, because it is a legal document, but follow the advice that CARR has given here. Just remember that without hard proof of your identity, PROVIDED THAT YOU DO NOT ADMIT IT, the infringement bureau only has the stupid and unsustainable "deeming" laws that any higher court would overturn on the basis that they are unconstitutional and deny a person natural justice. So don't be a victim of government revenue-raising camera scams and always use every means at your disposal to gather hard evidence of your innocence. A good dual camera car black box recorder will be your greatest saviour in any infringement defence.