Dear Lifehacker, Last night, I was driving home at 3am on a provisional licence. As I entered my driveway the police pulled up and started grilling me about why I was driving outside of the P plate curfew. I have an exemption for work which I immediately showed to them. They subsequently couldn't fine me for driving after hours, but then they noticed my back P plate had fallen down (it fell down as I went over the bump in my driveway). So they fined me for that instead. Was just wondering if what they did was allowed, coming onto my property and all that? Thanks, F.T.P
Police car picture from Shutterstock
That sounds exceedingly rough, especially if the P plates were still visible on your vehicle. Police routinely let provisional drivers off with a warning when their P plates are poorly displayed — the decision to issue a fine is entirely at their discretion. In other words, it looks like the officer had cause to dislike you (or was just a vindictive asshole.)
With that said, your rights weren't actually violated in any legal sense. When a motorist is suspected of breaking a road rule, the police are entitled to follow the alleged perpetrator onto his or her property. Otherwise, people would just make a dash for their driveway whenever they did anything wrong. But this doesn't mean you were treated fairly.
If I were you, I'd definitely request an internal review of the fine from the issuing agency. You can find the relevant instructions on the back of your penalty notice.
With any luck, the police department will downgrade your penalty to a warning. If they decide to uphold the fine, you can elect to have the matter heard at court. This will involve appearing before your local court at a specified date and time to defend yourself at a formal hearing. The magistrate can then decide to quash the fine or dismiss your case (which mean the fine still stands).
Often the decision will come down to how benevolent the magistrate is feeling on a particular day, as well as any existing driving offenses you have accrued. An impeccable record will obviously work in your favour. The fact that the police clearly had no problem identifying you as a provisional driver should also help your chances. Good luck!
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