Driver to contest tickets

Police taken to court to "weed out" unfair tactic

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 05:00 15/08/2014
Murray Jones, speeding
JOHN COWPLAND/ Fairfax NZ
APPROACH WITH CARE: Murray Jones was fined twice in two days for speeding. He says all he was doing was accelerating ahead of a 100kmh zone. 

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A driver is claiming to be the victim of police entrapment after he was ticketed twice in two days for doing something he says most motorists do - speeding up before entering a 100kmh zone.

Murray Jones will take his fight to the Marton District Court next month in a bid to "weed out" what he says is an unfair police tactic.

But police are making no apology for continuing to target speeding, saying it is a major contributor to deaths and injuries on the roads.

Jones, of Taupo, told The Dominion Post he picked up two speeding tickets in two days, from the same officer, while travelling between Taupo and Wellington over Queen's Birthday Weekend.

He says he was clocked at 58kmh heading south through Hunterville on the Saturday, and 62kmh heading north through Bulls on the Sunday.

In both cases he says he was within 50 metres of a 100kmh road sign. "I didn't speed up until I saw the sign," he said. "I didn't do it to be Stirling Moss; I did it subconsciously - just like every other driver does."

Jones, who frequently drives between Taupo and Wellington, felt only a small number of highway police fined drivers as they approached high-speed areas.

But there appeared to be inconsistencies about how the law was policed from district to district, and that had prompted him to dig his heels in, he said.

"It's not really about the $120 fine. It's the principle of the thing.

"It's the worst case of entrapment I've ever seen. Basically, what it boils down to is revenue collecting, pure and simple."

Back in 2003, Sergeant Steve Gibson, of Taihape, earned himself the nickname "cash register" after he ticketed 100 speeding drivers during one shift in a 50kmh area. The combined value of the tickets was about $10,000.

Central district road policing manager Inspector Dave White declined to comment yesterday on the specifics of Jones' case while it was before the courts.

But he said officers were sent to a range of locations throughout the district, including Hunterville and Bulls, over Queen's Birthday Weekend, according to police policy.

"Standard practice is that police track a vehicle's speed as it travels through town, and if the driver fails to slow down, an infringement is issued at the point where the alleged excess speed is recorded," he said.

"It is not issued at the point where the police officer or police vehicle is positioned, or where the offending driver may be finally stopped."

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Automobile Association motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said that, whatever the circumstances, Jones was speeding and no motorist should break the law.

The association was happy for police to use their discretion when enforcing the law, provided there were good reasons for their actions, he said. "There may well have been a very good reason for the police officers being parked where they were [in Hunterville and Bulls] that day."

The AA's 1.3 million members had not generally been complaining about getting caught speeding on the approach to 100kmh zones, he said.

A more common complaint was getting pinged as drivers moved from a 100kmh zone into a low-speed area.

In those situations, the AA supported having a moderate-speed "transition" zone, Noon said.

 

THE LAW SAYS:

Speed limit changes take effect at the signpost.

Before reaching a speed-limit sign, motorists must reduce their speed if the sign indicates a lower speed.

They are also forbidden from increasing their speed until they pass the sign, if it indicates a higher speed.

Speed cameras must not be positioned closer than 250 metres from where the speed limit reduces, except within school zones or temporary speed limit sites.


- The Dominion Post

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