Driver Fined for Leaving Car Unlocked at Sydney Service Station

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BP Service Station

Ben Judd was on his way to work last Friday morning when he pulled into the BP service station at Woollahra to grab a meat pie.

The Sydney driver returned to his vehicle to find a penalty notice in the sum of $112 for failing to lock his car door.

‘It is alleged that at 09.50hrs on Friday (day) 22/02/19 at BP Woollahra the following offence was committed… not lock doors /secure windows (vehicle unattended)’, the notice read.

Mr Judd posted was accompanied by his comment a photo of the notice to his Facebook page, accompanied by the comment:

“Stopped at a servo on the way to work this morning to grab a pie, was away from the car no more than a minute to find a police car had parked me in, upon arriving back to my car I was greeted with a lovely breath test and random drug test, both came back negative, the officer then picked on my LED light bar which is installed correctly so he had nothing once again, in the end he gave me $112 fine for leaving windows down/car unlocked!? (I was parked inside the petrol station, not on a road)

“The officer also told me if he saw me again he was going to pull me over, even though I was doing nothing wrong to start with…

“Revenue raising at its finest…

“Thoughts? Is that even a law?”

The post attracted dozens of comments from outraged members of the public.

“Thats ridiculous while at a petrol station”, one person posted.

“Im actually so furious for you dude. I cannot believe that they would fine you for that”, posted another.

“I think you have grounds to fight that”, wrote another.

The law in New South Wales

Regulation 213 of the NSW Road Rules is headed ‘Making a motor vehicle secure’ and provides and follows:

‘(1) This rule applies to the driver of a motor vehicle who stops and leaves the vehicle on a road, except so far as the driver is exempt from this rule by an exemption order under rule 213-1 or an exemption under rule 313A (2).

(2) Before leaving the vehicle, the driver must apply the parking brake effectively or, if weather conditions (for example, snow) would prevent the effective operation of the parking brake, effectively restrain the motor vehicle’s movement in another way.

(3) If the driver will be over 3 metres from the closest part of the vehicle, the driver must switch off the engine before leaving the vehicle.

(4) If the driver will be over 3 metres from the closest part of the vehicle, and:

(a) there is no-one left in the vehicle, or

(b) there is only a child or children under 16 years old left in the vehicle,

the driver must remove the ignition key before leaving the vehicle

(5) If the driver will be over 3 metres from the closest part of the vehicle and there is no-one left in the vehicle, the driver must:

(a) if the windows of the vehicle can be secured–secure the windows immediately before leaving the vehicle, and

(b) if the doors of the vehicle can be locked–lock the doors immediately after leaving the vehicle.

(6) For the purposes of subrule (5), a window is secure even if it is open by up to 2 centimetres.’

The maximum penalty for each offence is 20 penalty units, which currently amounts to $2,200 and the penalty notice amount is currently $112.

Demerit points do not apply for any of the offences.

The following are exempted from the offences:

Regulation 213-1(1):

(a) such vehicles are used for the purpose of delivering or collecting goods (including money) in circumstances that require the drivers of those vehicles to enter and leave those vehicles at frequent intervals, and

(b) the engines of such vehicles have to be kept running in order to operate equipment used in connection with the use of those vehicles for that purpose.

Regulation 213A(1):

‘… the driver of a vehicle engaged in the collection of waste or garbage’.

A ‘road’ is broadly defined by section 12(1) of the Road Rules 2013 as:

‘an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as one of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles.’

The definition does not include the shoulder of a road, or a road related area which under section 213(1) of the Road Rules is:

(a)  an area that divides a road,

(b)  a footpath or nature strip adjacent to a road,

(c)  an area that is not a road and that is open to the public and designated for use by cyclists or animals,

(d)  an area that is not a road and that is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking vehicles.


So in a nutshell, unless you are an exempted driver such as a delivery, collection or garbage truck driver, it is a traffic offence for you not to do any of the following acts in an area which has driving as one of its main uses:

  • Apply the parking brake before you leave the vehicle,
  • Switch off the engine if you are more than three metres away from the vehicle,
  • Remove the key if you are more than three metres away from the vehicle and there is no one other than a child or children under 16 inside, or
  • Ensure the windows are no more than two centimetres ajar and the doors are locked.

You can contest the penalty notice if you believe you are not guilty of the offence, but you should be aware that a court can impose a fine of up to $2,200 if you do so and are found guilty.

In the case of Mr Judd, it would certainly be open for a court to dismiss the matter under section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 given the triviality of the offence, even if the magistrate were to find that a service station is a ‘road’ for the purposes of the legislation.

Going to court for a traffic offence?

If you are going to court for a traffic offence, call or email Sydney Criminal Lawyers anytime to arrange a free first consultation with an experienced, specialist traffic lawyer who will accurately advise you of your options, the best way forward, and fight for the optimal outcome in your specific situation.

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Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with 25 years of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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