A video published on the website of Dash Cam Owners Australia has sparked heated debate on social media pages, with some arguing that the police officer was at fault by plunging forward into another car, while others are adamant that the driver could and should have given way to the police vehicle.
The dash cam footage, taken by a motorist in North Albury, shows an almost-stationary police car with its lights flashing and siren activated running a red light and hitting the rear passenger side of a red sedan.
One of the women inside the car within which the dash cam is located screams, gasps and says, “he hit him… why did the copper do that? He’s seen him there. But he was in the wrong that cop. He’s seen that guy and he only had to wait”. She then shouts “you were in the wrong” as she passes the police car that has pulled over to the side of the road.
But not everyone agrees. The video has attracted over 400,000 views, and has over 3,000 reactions, over 1,500 shares and nearly 2,000 comment threads on Facebook, with many expressing support for the police.
“ummm how can the cop be in the wrong ladies? Lights a sirens going…. he has right of way… better hand your licence in if you think that he was in the wrong. The dickhead in the red car stopped to give way to him and then continued on”, said one person.
“Hahahah how is the cop in the wrong sirens on and the red car has seen that and stopped so cop goes to go through and the red car drives into the cops hope they get a massive fine”, said another.
So, what does the law say?
Section 79 of the Road Rules 2014 is titled ‘giving way to police and emergency vehicles’, and states:
(1) A driver must give way to a police or emergency vehicle that is displaying a flashing blue or red light (whether or not it is also displaying other lights) or sounding an alarm.
Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.
For this rule, give way means:
(a) if the driver is stopped—remain stationary until it is safe to proceed, or
(b) in any other case—slow down and, if necessary, stop to avoid a collision,
(2) This rule applies to the driver despite any other rule of these Rules that would otherwise require the driver of a police or emergency vehicle to give way to the driver.
Driving contrary to this rule comes with a penalty notice of $514 and 3 demerit points at the time of writing, or a maximum fine of $2,200 if the driver elects (chooses) to take the matter to court.
(1) A provision of these Rules does not apply to the driver of a police vehicle if:
(a) in the circumstances:
(i) the driver is taking reasonable care, and
(ii) it is reasonable that the provision should not apply, and
(b) if the vehicle is a motor vehicle that is moving-the vehicle is displaying a blue or red flashing light or sounding an alarm.
(2) Subrule (1) (b) does not apply to the driver if, in the circumstances, it is reasonable:
(a) not to display the light or sound the alarm, or
(b) for the vehicle not to be fitted or equipped with a blue or red flashing light or an alarm.
So what’s your verdict?
Defending against a traffic offence
It is important to be aware that the onus rests on the prosecution to prove any failure to give way allegation beyond a reasonable doubt.
That being so, those who believe that were on the right side of the law can apply for a review or, if this is refused, elect (choose) to take the matter to court and put the prosecution to proof; in other words, make them prove the allegations.
Arguments put forth in court when defending such allegations include:
- The offence did not occur as alleged, or at all,
- Someone else was driving the car when the violation occurred (misidentification),
- The penalty notice is invalid, due to an error in or insufficiency of material particulars, and/or
- An emergency justified the violation or the conduct occurred as a result of being threatened with imminent serious harm.
It is important to carefully consider whether to elect to take a penalty notice to court, as it can result in a harsher penalty than that which comes with the penalty notice.
That said, a court also has discretion to deal with the matter by way of a non-conviction order such as a section 10 dismissal in the event you wish to plead guilty or are found guilty and seek leniency.
Getting a non-conviction order means there is no fine or demerit points.
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.