Court in Vic ruled that speeding saved a life
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  1. #1
    nJm is offline
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    Jan 2002
    Melbourne, Australia

    Icon1 Court in Vic ruled that speeding saved a life

    Got this off Carpoint:


    Victorian motorcyclist and former traffic cop, Peter Culpan has successfully defended a speed camera violation on the basis that he exceeded the speed limit in order to avoid injury to himself and another road user.

    The outcome of the case is seen as a crucial victory for road users in a state that is now heavily reliant on the revenue raised from contentious speed monitoring devices. More significantly, it paves the way for other motorists to use the same defence in both speed and red light camera cases.

    The outcome is a slap in the face for the Bracks Government's insistence that speeding -- no matter the circumstances -- is indefensible. With record numbers of speeding notices now being handed out in the State, which has a tolerance of just 3km/h over the posted limit, many Victorians will welcome Murphy's decision.


    The verdict -- theoretically at least -- means that other motorists who believe that they are in imminent danger may use judicious speed to avoid a collision. In other words, exceeding the speed limit can be justified if it can be successfully argued that the rider/driver did it to avoid injury or loss.

    The case was heard in the Mansfield Magistrates Court, north-east of Melbourne on Wednesday, November 5. Magistrate John Murphy heard that in November last year Culpan, a Melbourne safety consultant, was riding his BMW motorcycle near Mansfield when a ute pulled out from a side street, almost colliding with him. Culpan maintained the he was forced to accelerate beyond the posted limit to prevent injury to himself and the driver of the ute.

    Rather than accept the fine of $125 and loss of one licence point on the charge of doing 65km/h in a 60km/h zone, Culpan was determined to have his day in court and fight what he saw as a blatant injustice.

    "I feel that in this case I have to put my side to a court," Culpan told CarPoint in an interview days prior to the case (see Court case challenges Speed Kills). "I was within a whisker of getting T-boned and injured and it was the only way I could avoid a collision," said Culpan, whose previouse appeal to the State's Civil Compliance Office had been denied.

    Barrister John Lavery argued that Culpan deserved to be excused from the charge using the defence of necessity which, in effect, states that illegal actions were needed at a specific time and place to prevent injury or loss.

    Magistrate Murphy agreed, dismissing the charge and awarding all costs to the defendant. Mr Murphy was also critical of the prosecution's position, commenting that the incident may well have resulted in an "inquest" if it hadn't been for Culpan's actions.

    The defence of necessity has never been tested against a speed camera before and is similar to the argument of self defence.

    "The interesting aspect of the necessity defence is that the onus is on the prosecution to rebut it," explained Lavery. "In this case, the only evidence they could present was the speed camera photo, which only showed the rear of Peter's bike after the near-collision. I believe there is no reason why this defence cannot be used in other camera offences.

    Lavery sites a couple of possible scenarios: "If a motorist was photographed by a red light camera, they could argue that they were forced to drive through the intersection to avoid a car behind them running into the rear of their car. Or you could argue that you had to speed up to avoid an aggressive motorist tailgating you on the freeway. In both of these cases a plausible necessity defence could be used and the authorities would have to present evidence to rebut it.

    "Another interesting aspect is that the government continues to maintain that its speed cameras are set up in accident 'black spots', which are inherently locations where emergencies take place. The implication is that anywhere there is a speed camera, the location is more likely to cause people to increase their speed to avoid collisions or emergencies."

    In summing up, Magistrate Murphy told the court that he was "appalled" that the case had come before him and condemned the widespread use of speed cameras specifically in situations where a police officer would exercise discretion.

    "This is a win for what is right and honest," said an elated Culpan. "I'm delighted that honesty and commonsense prevailed."

    Senior Constable Sam Ireland, prosecuting, indicated that a recording of the proceedings and Mr Murphy's comments would be passed to the Victorian Police Assistant Commissioner.
    1983 Peugeot 505 GR

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  2. #2
    Sense Pug307's Avatar
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    Mar 2002


    I'd love to see talkback radio get onto this.

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  3. #3
    Fellow Frogger! AlsPug504's Avatar
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    Jul 2002


    Quote Originally Posted by Pug307
    I'd love to see talkback radio get onto this.
    HHMM I doubt it! talk back radio are the first to suck up to the police and talk shit were ever they can.

    The media slamming speed as a cause for road death is part of the reason the population end up labored with bloody speed cameras. That together with the fact that good news does not sell. That my stand!!

    I am stoked that the guy got off the charge thow. The interesting thing about the so called Blackspot is that it is a place were someone was killed in a road accident the time when it occured does not matter.

    So there could have been someone killed there in the 1960s and they are still carring on like it is a major case of death. Usually with a cost placed under the sign so you know how much they plan to pin on your wallet.
    Last edited by AlsPug504; 10th November 2003 at 04:03 PM.

  4. #4
    mistareno's Avatar
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    Nov 2002


    quote "In summing up, Magistrate Murphy told the court that he was "appalled" that the case had come before him and condemned the widespread use of speed cameras specifically in situations where a police officer would exercise discretion."

    couldn't agree more

    discretion is a wonderful word.......

  5. #5
    XTC is offline
    VIC: a fine driving state XTC's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
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    Great - a new can of worms .....

    "I was speeding cause soneone was tailgating and I thought they might crash into me" ...

    - XTC206 -
    You're not fooling everyone, or did you forget? .......

    '02 Peugeot 206 GTi / '07 VW Golf GTI
    Now this is a .sig
    AF'd in PER, MEL, SYD, ADL, CBR

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