Ask LH: Should I Contest This Traffic Fine?

Dear Lifehacker, I received an infringement from the police for not stopping at a Give Way sign which I didn't notice was there. However, I believe another involved driver was at fault. When I attempted to turn right, the other car wasn't there. The only reason they did an emergency stop was because they failed to notice me on the road. The police said I failed to stop and gave me a ticket anyway. Do you think I have a chance to win the appeal? Thanks, Clement

Dear Clement,

I don't fancy your chances on this one — which is a nice way of saying you don't have a snowball's chance in hell.

Let's review the facts. By your own admission, you failed to notice the Give Way sign and subsequently drove straight through it. This forced another driver — who allegedly wasn't paying attention — to brake hard. Your defense seems to center on whose actions caused the emergency stop.

Unfortunately for you, this fact is completely irrelevant. The infringement has nothing to do with who was responsible for the near collision or which car reached the intersection first. As the police pointed out, you were fined for failing to give way. That's it. If the other driver had noticed you earlier and slowed down without braking, you still would have received the fine.

The only way this would be remotely winnable in court is if the sign was significantly obscured in some way. In the unlikely event that this was the case, be sure to take plenty of photographs to support your story along with some witnesses to back you up.

Otherwise, we strongly advise against taking this matter to court. Your case will almost certainly be tossed out, and you might even get slugged with additional court costs and an offender levy for wasting everyone's time. Accept responsibility and pay the fine.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    While I agree with your conclusion some of this is not correct. You are not required to stop at a Give Way sign if there is nobody to give way to. (You are required stop at a Stop sign). If you check and can safely see no other vehicles on the road you can proceed through a give way sign without stopping.

    The only way I can see Clement having a defensible argument is if the other driver was speeding, and there was some kind of crest or bend that, combined with their speed, prevented them from being seen by Clement until it was too late. However, I highly doubt a give way sign would be positioned where there is a risk of this (as Stop sign would be more likely), so I don't think this is a likely scenario.

    The offence code will help clear this up. If Clement has been issued an offence relating to a Stop sign where there is none, then this is defensible. If it's about not giving way at a give way sign, well it sounds like this is exactly what happened.

      Unfortunately even if the other driver was speeding this needs to be proven and even then... In most insurance claims at least, if you fail to give way and there is an accident, its always your fault because you didn't have the right of way and failed to give way.

      Even saying the Give way sign was obstructed is not a valid argument as coming to an intersection which is not marked is automatically a give way.

      The only way I see this person being able to get off this fine is if they can prove the other driver who had to stop suddenly was speeding by a lot, and/or there was a major obstruction which prevented them from seeing the car. And this is pretty much impossible unless the Police actually made a report saying the other driver was speeding and fined them, instead they fined the OP so really there's no way to argue it.

      Looks like the fine is justified. At least with the info given.

        Agreed, I wasn't suggesting that the scenario I proposed would get them off, just that it *might* form the basis of an explanation as to why the other driver had to brake and a possible scenario in which it may seem as if they had not given way when in fact the other vehicle was not visible at the time they passed through the sign. I agree this is still all subjective and would be a very weak defense.

        With regards to your point:

        The only way I see this person being able to get off...


        Looks like the fine is justified. At least with the info given.

        From a legal perspective (regardless of whether it was justified, moral or ethical), if Clement has been issued an infringement relating to a stop sign and there was no stop sign present, then they can contest this in court. The police don't know the law (it's not their job to), and they do make mistakes about this kind of thing. Clement said

        I received an infringement from the police for not stopping at a Give Way sign

        which technically is not an offense. It's unclear whether this actually means an infringement for not giving way at a give way sign, in which case there is likely no defense, or an infringement for not stopping at a stop sign, in which case there is very clear grounds to contest this because Clement did not commit this offense. There is of course the third scenario, that Clement was either mistaken or did not communicate correctly and there was in fact a stop sign. In which case, again, suck it up and pay.

      Regardless, you should be giving way at any intersection you are turning right. I can't think of a situation where one would have the right of way turning right, unless at a traffic light.

      If I remember correctly from Learner Driving days, was if you are turning / changing lanes and another car had to slow down / stop for you it was an instant fail?

      The fact that the other driver was speeding is a completely separate situation. One which could have received a fine.

    Sorry Clement,
    Im with the editor on this one, Not observing your surroundings isnt a valid excuse.
    suck it up, pay the fine, move on and take caution on the roads in the future, safe driving!

    Pay it. Move on. Be more careful in looking for road signs in the future.
    The presence, or not, of the other vehicle (and the actions that driver took) are irrelevant.

      Also , learn how to spot the unmarked cars. They still have multiple aerials sticking up in the air like a normal cop car.

    Further - even if you didn't see the Give Way sign, there would have been dashed markings across your lane which would also indicate that you needed to give way. Even if the sign was obscured, the road markings would still be grounds to give you a fine.

    "LH, apparently the police expect me to pay attention on the roads and to follow the road rules. After not doing either, I was fined. Do I have to pay the fine?" - Half of all ALH articles.

    Most of these ALH end up sounding a little odd - in that the question it phrased peculiarly or details are missing or seem strange. The car wasn't there when Clement turned right, so it magically appeared? Where did it come from to end up in a situation where they had to slam on the brakes? So, let's give Clement the benefit of the doubt and say that the car appear "out of nowhere" - who the hell blows through an intersection with poor visibility and no clear right-of-way?

    More likely, given that Clement failed to notice the sign, the road markings and the other vehicle, is that they were distracted - either by their phone or by something else in the car. Pay the fine and be glad that you're not up for a more serious charge and a big insurance claim.

    I did get annoyed getting pinged for not coming to a full-stop at a stop sign, the officer estimated my speed at 2km/hr. It was my fault for not stopping, but it is one of those ones that really, really should be a give-way, you can see for miles, the road is straight and flat, and there were no cars at all, apart from the unmarked car behind me :)
    Still, I didn't come to a full stop, so I copped the fine.

    It is annoying that the fine and points are the same as someone who blows through the stop-sign without stopping, but I sure as hell make the car come to a full stop every time now :)

    Last edited 03/02/16 3:13 pm

    Please, contest this in court and report back. It will be amusing I'm sure.

    The only fine I've got that angered me, was failing to stop at a stop sign at 9:45pm. Have no idea why it's even a stop sign - the stop sign is only if you're turning left, those going straight ahead have lights. Very clear view, no obstructions at all. Those lights were green at the time, so the only way someone could have crashed into me, was if others went through a red light. I always treated it as a give way sign until the fine.

    Obviously a lot of people ignore the sign, as they've also painted STOP on the road, added a 2nd stop sign at the bend, put yellow reflective lights around them both.

    I did appeal, but not court action. Just got a reply back, saying it was a "Dangerous intersection" . What he failed to mention in the letter, but I know as I live nearby, was that "Dangerous" label was caused by someone being pursued by police at 150kmh+ an hour who went through a red light, after armed robbery about 2:00am, and was nothing to do with the bend - the driver went straight ahead through the red light, crashing into a car turning right with a green light.

    Since when do you have to stop at a give way sign. In Sth Aust you don't have to STOP.

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