South Australia police say they will begin testing red-light cameras under new rules, following a Supreme Court judgement that forced the suspension of thousands of unpaid fines.
- Police will test red-light cameras at 134 locations in South Australia
- It comes after a far-reaching court judgement invalidated a man’s red-light fine due to camera testing issues
- Police yesterday suspended red-light fines and put about 3,000 current fines on hold
But police are warning drivers that the current situation should not be seen as an opportunity to avoid traffic fines.
The court last week overturned a man’s fine for running a red light because the camera had not been tested properly, prompting police to yesterday suspend collecting red-light fines.
Justice Greg Parker found David Woolmer’s fine and conviction were invalid because the camera in question had not been tested while a vehicle passed through the intersection during a red-light, as required by regulations.
All unpaid fines issued prior to the October 2 judgement have also been suspended, pending legal advice.
Legal experts said that the judgement would have implications for similar cases, with about 3,000 fines now on hold.
South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said police would implement a process by the end of this week in high-risk locations for red-light offences.
“We will be expiating people, that’s the reason we’re putting this alternative process in place so that we can use these cameras.”
Commissioner Stevens said 134 cameras would be tested across the state, with police cars being driven into temporarily-closed intersections while the light is red.
“It means we will have to block the intersection for a short period so that we can do this safely,” Commissioner Stevens said.
“We’ll be looking at probably 10 to 15 police officers, plus our camera testing crew, out undertaking this new process until we have a more permanent solution.”
Commissioner Stevens said it is not feasible to undertake testing at night when roads are quieter.
“Within the order of about 500 police officers dedicated to COVID-19 duties, there are limited resources that we have at our disposal at this point,” he said.
“So we’ll use them as best we can, and that doesn’t mean putting them on at 2:00am.”
Once cameras have been tested, the issuing of expiation fines will resume.
SA Police is also seeking legal advice on whether to appeal the decision, and Mr Stevens said suspended notices will be reactivated if possible.
“We get in the order of about 95 red-light camera detections a day, so this is a significant risk that people are taking on our roads,” Commissioner Stevens said.
Legislation may need amending
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said SAPOL was also looking at whether or not amendments need to be made to the legislation.
“We haven’t received that advice but the clear message is people still need to obey the road rules, they still need to be doing the right thing on our roads,” he said.
“We have road rules in South Australia — it’s very important that people abide by those road rules, [to] keep themselves safe and also other road users.”
State Government data shows about 23,500 fines were handed out for failing to obey red or yellow traffic lights in the 2019-20 financial year.
Total fines for the offences during that period were worth $13.3 million.
That equates to around 1,900 fines worth $1.1 million to government coffers each month.