Ask LH: Can I Challenge A Speeding Fine If Other Cars Are In The Picture?

Ask LH: Can I Challenge A Speeding Fine If Other Cars Are In The Picture?

Hi Lifehacker, I just received a 3-point speeding fine after being caught by a camera going 14kmh over the speed limit. The 80 suddenly changes to 70 at this area and has a lot of traffic, so it’s easy to miss the sign even when concentrating. If it’s a roadside camera, is it possible to challenge the fine if there are other vehicles in the picture? I’ve read these cameras are vulnerable to mistakes. Thanks, Picture This

Photo by Speeding car (Shutterstock).

Dear PT,

We don’t fancy your chances on this one. It’s your responsibility as a motorist to watch out for road signs regardless of traffic conditions. Being distracted by other vehicles isn’t a good enough excuse for failing to adhere to the posted speed limit.

For your argument to hold any water, you’d need to prove that the sign was completely obscured by traffic; a feat that’s virtually impossible. Even if you submit the roadside camera’s image as evidence, the different vantage point is unlikely to prove much of anything (other than the fact you were speeding).

The only way it would be potentially useful is if a semitrailer or other large vehicle was directly in front of your car. Otherwise, you’re just asking the court to take your word for it that you couldn’t see the sign.

In any event, you were technically still speeding even if it was a 70 zone (albeit by only 4kmh). Generally, the court doesn’t look too favouably on motorists who attempt to swap one fine for a lesser one. This could result in having to pay court costs and an offender levy in addition to the original fine.

Our advice is to take this one on the chin. It sucks when you get busted doing the wrong thing by accident, but them’s the “brakes”.


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  • I think Picture This wanted to know whether the proximity of other cars in the photo could be used to argue that the speed camera might have made an error – that he/she might have been going 70 and someone else was going 84 and the camera picked the wrong car.

    • Yep, the response was rubbish and Chris Jaeger should rewrite the article.

      Let me clarify the original question: “Assuming we source a speed-camera photo, what photo-characteristics would provide sufficient doubt to challenge a fine.”

  • If you know the sign’s there then there isn’t really much excuse. Pay it, Move on.

    If you didn’t know the sign’s there, didn’t see, didn’t see the camera, didn’t notice you were going faster than all the other traffic then that’s even less of an excuse. Pay it. Move on. And consider not driving any more – failing to notice all those things makes you dangerous.

  • I thought the question was whether it was potentially another car in the view of the radar/camera that was going faster than the driver/car that was fined

  • Sometimes it is easy to miss a sign here or there if you are negotiating traffic but again it isn’t an excuse and you got nabbed so just pay it. You’ll know the speed limit next time.

  • I think what he’s asking is if it’s possible for the camera to pick out the wrong object.

  • You can challenge a speeding fine from a camera, but only if the box that is laid over the picture that goes around your licence plate is not in a valid position. In WA the box has to go around part/all of your licence plate and one of the wheels of the car and the ground and not contain any other vehicles.

    No plate, no wheel, no ground or another vehicle and the fine is invalid.

  • You can’t have it both ways, vehicles blocked all signage of the speed changes OR you were not speeding and it was photographed in error.

    You were exceeding the previous speed limit anyway, pay the fine, because you’re guilty.

  • If you currently have a clean record, write a letter admitting to it, and ask if you can be let off with a warning. It often works.

  • Speed cameras cannot be trusted, that is why in NSW at fixed cameras there are white markings on the road and they take two photos (measure the distance between the white marks).
    It does not matter what system they are using all systems have their faults.
    You need to do a forensic study of where the speed camera got you and then look at all the variables, you just might find something that is not quite right.
    I have two in car cameras with gps recording operating all the time both front and rear. The cameras record about 5 hours of information onto a micro sd card, all files are kept for at least 6 weeks on a backup hard drive.

    • I’ll assume you realise the GPS in those will be orders of magnitude less accurate than the certified, calibrated sensors the cameras use for distance measurement, from a static location.

      • That’s if the cameras are calibrated properly and maintained on schedule.

        GPS sensors are normally more accurate than the speedometer and are generally accurate to 0.5km/h, so it really wouldn’t be a massive difference for driving a car. Launching a rocket on the other-hand…

      • In NSW the speed cameras are all in house as they are installed maintained, calibrated and certified by the RMS as far as I know.
        No outside testing authority is used and you would not even know if the testing equipment being used is certified as correct by the NTA.
        The RMS do not even trust the speed cameras that is why they have the white diamonds painted on the road.

        Look at the major flaws with the Spit Hill speed cameras and others as reported here.

        GPS is not always accurate but if you look at the raw data recorded the errors can be identified.
        My cameras also have 6 axis “G” force data recorded along with the time stamp from the camera.

  • Dear Lifehacker.

    I’m curious. How many emails and form submissions do you receive from tools who’ve been caught being tools, looking for ways to avoid the consequences of being tools, instead of trying to learn how not to be tools in future?

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