NSW weighbridge evasion fines in firing line


A part-time truck driver’s misfortune the F3 in NSW has helped throw more doubt on fines for evading weighbridges. <br /><br /> Apparent signage and administrative shortfalls at the former Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), now the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), have now led to at least three cases being either thrown out or awaiting an RMS decision regarding an appeal. The latest case to be rejected involves Richard Mainey, a Port Macquarie tool-making business owner who has a truck licence but had not driven one on a freeway since 2006.

By Rob McKay | November 7, 2011

A part-time truck driver’s misfortune on the F3 in NSW has helped throw more doubt on fines for evading weighbridges.

Apparent signage and administrative shortfalls at the former Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), now the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), have now led to at least three cases being either thrown out or awaiting an RMS decision regarding an appeal.

The latest case to be rejected involves Richard Mainey, a Port Macquarie tool-making business owner who has a truck licence but had not driven one on a freeway since 2006.

He had gone to Taren Point to pick up a hydraulic press, his lawyer says.

Mainey’s position was that the signage before the Mount White weighing station had been confusing and that the charge had been framed wrongly.

The relevant part of the Road Transport (Mass, Loading and Access) Regulation 2005, Division 4 Checking and measuring procedures, (section) 63 Exercise of direction powers by authorised officers (1), states that " . . . an authorised officer may direct the driver of a vehicle to stop: (a) by displaying a notice (whether or not it is illuminated) containing at least the word "STOP" . . . (4) An authorised officer may also direct the driver of a vehicle to stop by clearly displaying a notice displaying the words "DIVERT TO HEAVY VEHICLE CHECKING STATION", "DIVERT TO CHECKING STATION" or similar words".

The signs alerting truck drivers to the weighbridges do not include the requisite words.

"Rather than changing signs or amending the old rule that they used to use, some clerk has just decided ‘we’ll charge them under this other section’," David Spencer of Spencer Lawyers says.

"When Mainey contacted me and I had a look at it, it just didn’t look right."

Magistrate Alan Railton dismissed the $2200 fine and awarded Mainey $1980 legal costs at Gosford Local Court last Thursday.

The magistrate then refused to hear another driver’s guilty plea for the same offence, Spencer says, and on Friday, which is known as "RTA day", had mentioned the matter to legal practitioners in terms sympathetic to truck drivers.

The two cases follow one in the NSW Supreme Court last year dealing with a similar occurrence and with a similar outcome.

Though having raised this with RMS lawyers before the hearing, Spencer says they had refused to entertain halting proceedings, which he believes had helped lead to costs being awarded to Mainey.

Spencer believes Mainey had been quite brave to challenge the fine: "Thankfully, I was able to persuade him to give this a run, [saying] ‘although you expose yourself - if you’re found guilty, you might get a higher fine - I really think you need to take a stand here and say to the RTA, ‘look, I don’t think you’ve charged me with the right offence, if there is an actual offence’."

He had asked RMS lawyers why it had not changed the signs after the Supreme Court loss and had been told that it takes two years to change signs and that it would have been quicker to change the regulations.

Spencer points out that many truck drivers will have been unfairly penalised, having paid what he believes are unlawful fines having considered them a business cost, especially those based outside the state or distant from the region.

They should get a reimbursement and he was available to appear for them.

ATN was awaiting a response from the RMS at deadline today.


Bookmark and Share



You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook