Speeding cops being made to pay

Last updated 05:00 07/02/2014

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Police used to having their speeding fines waived are being ordered to cough up.

Police car, fire engine and ambulance drivers are also coming under scrutiny as regular motorists await the results of trials that could bring in a lower permanent speed threshold.

New figures show just two of 78 Wellington police vehicle drivers slapped with speeding ticket fines in 2012 had to pay - the rest had them waived.

But the following year, almost half the 66 drivers snapped speeding had to pay up, in a trend that has played out nationally.

The Police Association says a crackdown on speeding cops means fewer fines are being waived, as it becomes harder to argue the officers hit the gas in the line of duty.

The Land Transport Road User Rule 2004 allows emergency vehicles drivers to exceed speed limits if sticking to a slower pace would prohibit their duty.

Figures released by New Zealand Police under the Official Information Act show fewer officers have avoided paying speeding ticket fines.

A total 1244 speeding tickets were served to police vehicles drivers in 2012 and 2013.

To have those fines waived they had to submit a report explaining why they should get let off.

"Police employees who are caught travelling in excess of the speed limit are treated no differently to members of the public, and, depending on the circumstances, may be subject to further disciplinary action," road policing national manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths said.

In 2012, 742 speeding infringement notices were served to police drivers and roughly half, or 362 of the tickets, were waived. But last year, just a quarter of officers' 502 speeding tickets were waived. A total 96 tickets remained "outstanding", compared with 14 the previous year, which meant the results on whether officers were culpable are yet to be finalised.

In 2012, police drivers paid fines for 379 of the speeding tickets they racked up, including 12 who disputed paying their own fines but were ordered to by the district commander.

Last year fewer tickets were issued but officers paid 273 fines, outstripping the 129 waived, and four were forced to pay. .

Police Association vice-president Luke Shadbolt said drivers of all emergency vehicles were subject to the same speed crackdowns motorists were feeling.

Lower speed thresholds of 4kmh over the holidays and long weekends that are being tested as police eye a permanent change had also meant more officers were getting tickets, he said.

"They seem to be picking it up more than they did in the past. There is an expectation with urgent driving that vehicles are permitted to drive faster to get to an emergency," Mr Shadbolt said.

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"There is probably a little bit of a public scrutiny around the country as all motorists are being looked at as lower thresholds come in for the general public and they know that applies to police too."

Police would not reveal the top speeds officers were snapped travelling at, reasoning they could reject the request as it could prejudice legal processing of offences.

However their response added that the top recorded speeds for 2012 and 2013 were "well in excess of the legal speed limit" and tickets were waived as the speeding was part of policework.

- The Dominion Post

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