More drivers are expected to challenge speeding fines after an Adelaide man successfully challenged the accuracy of hand-held speed guns used by South Australian police.
Adam Butcher’s charge of driving at 102 kilometres per hour in a 50kph zone in 2012 was thrown out by the Supreme Court in Adelaide after it was found the police device’s daily calibration did not meet Australian standards.
Mr Butcher’s lawyer, Karen Stanley, said until now the prosecution only had to produce a certificate signed by a senior police officer stating that the device was tested and was accurate to within its margin of error.
The devices are subject to annual calibration testing and officers are required to examine speed guns before and after each shift.
“What we were able to do was look at the daily testing that was done on device which is really very basic testing that’s recommended by the manufacturer of the device and point out to the court that that testing doesn’t comply with the Australian standards testing,” Ms Stanley said.
“And it’s the Australian standards testing that gives the accuracy within a margin of error.”
She predicted more speeding cases would be tested in the courts after the landmark ruling.
Case puts ‘spotlight on margin of error’
Ms Stanley said her client’s matter had been long running and included two Supreme Court appeals.
“These devices are not accurate, and when they are calibrated annually the calibration confirms it is a margin of error, and the Supreme Court has said these devices aren’t exact,” she said.
“So when people get charged or fined for these offences we want to be sure that people are being penalised for the offence they actually committed.
“If the device is slightly inaccurate and measures three kilometres an hour more than you were actually travelling… that flicks you into a different category, more demerits points, greater fines. An offence that results in an immediate loss of licence that has huge consequences, so this case has really put a spotlight on this margin of error.
“We are saying to police we need to be sure that the devices you are relying on are accurate.”
She said Mr Butcher was relieved the matter was over.
South Australian Police Minister Peter Malinauskas said authorities were confident any other case pursued as a result of the latest challenge would ultimately fail.
“It’s unfortunate on this particular instance in this particular case there was an error in due process not being followed.
“We don’t have any reason to believe that’s occurred anywhere else and isn’t likely to occur again in the future.
“We remain confident that the speed testing regime that exists in South Australia is robust and accurate. South Australian motorists should know that if they do speed, they will get caught and ultimately pay a fine.”
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