Mobile phone detection cameras may challenge Local Courts

The results are in: new mobile phone detection cameras could result in as many as 2.4 million NSW drivers receiving infringement notices every year.

There is a risk that local courts will be overwhelmed with challenges to infringement notices issued as a result of the cameras. A report tabled in parliament on 12 November, during the inquiry into the Road Transport Amendment (Mobile Phone Detection) Bill 2019, has identified significant potential challenges. Currently, approximately 3% of infringement notices issued for illegal mobile phone use are challenged in court, and if this statistic remains true, courts could see as many as 72,900 cases filed.

Though there is significant support for the new cameras, Greens MP David Shoebridge has noted that there needs to be a plan to manage the potential increase in Local Court case load in order to manage ‘meltdown’. The NSW Centre for Road Safety has indicated that there will be funding to provide extra resources for the court system, but has not yet detailed how this will be used.

Controversially, the proposed laws reverse the onus of proof, which means that motorists photographed holding an object would be presumed to be holding a mobile phone. This would require the driver to then satisfy the court, on the balance of probabilities, that the object was not a phone. This reversal has been criticised as unduly affecting the presumption of innocence, and having the ability to erode public confidence in the use of the cameras. Further, it may make it difficult for the driver to gather evidence to prove they were not holding a phone, considering they will only receive an infringement notice some days or weeks after the event.

The bill is currently awaiting debate in the NSW Legislative Council.

Hamilton Janke Lawyers has extensive experience in traffic matters and can advise you of your rights. If you, or a loved one, has been charged with a traffic offence contact Hamilton Janke Lawyers 24/7 on 4038 1666.

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