Surprise over seatbelt fine for surgery patient

06:31, Nov 20 2013
Joshua Plimmer
NO EXCUSE: Police fined Joshua Plimmer for not wearing a seatbelt, despite his doctor telling him not to after bowel cancer surgery.

A massive surgery wound trails from Joshua Plimmer's chest to his lower stomach after a recent operation for bowel cancer, leaving him tender, frail and unable to strain his abdomen.

So when he was fined for not wearing a seatbelt on doctor's orders, Plimmer was baffled his explanation was rejected - but a fine for a long overdue Warrant of Fitness was waived.

Plimmer was ''doing stuff around town'' when he was pulled over in Riccarton at a routine checkpoint a couple of weeks ago.

He was a passenger in a friend's van and was not wearing a seatbelt, due to being fresh out of hospital after a tumour was removed from his bowel in October.

The surgery scar reaches from his chest to the top of his groin, and had ''30 or 40 staples'' keeping it together.

He had been instructed by his doctor to forgo wearing a seatbelt due to the pain and potential damage any pressure on his abdomen could do.

However, this explanation was rejected when he was slapped with a $150 fine for being in a car unrestrained.

''They pulled us over and I said 'Look officer this is what's going on' and I showed him. He said 'Oh sh..t that's pretty serious,'' Plimmer said.

''He came back and said it's protocol I still have to give you a ticket.''

He had not yet collected a doctor's certificate stating his inability to wear a seatbelt.

However, the van his friend was driving was overdue for a Warrant of Fitness by two months and this was mentioned only in passing.

An explanation letter Plimmer sent to Christchurch police was rejected.

''If someone shows you a massive battle wound you'd say okay mate I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. He could have screwed up the ticket for the no seatbelt and made an extra $50 on the no warrant,'' he said.

Senior Sergeant Dean Harker said it was crucial people carried ''the proper documentation'' for driving exemptions due to things such as surgery.

''If he'd have had the documentation he would have been fine,'' Harker said.

''They're supposed to carry the paperwork on them...we can't prove what the doctor said on the side of the road.''

Harker said if Plimmer sent in another explanation, with the doctor's certificate, it would be judged on a ''case-by-case basis''.

''We get the same thing with people not wearing cycle helmets, saying for medical reasons they don't have to wear them. It's a lesson for him to carry it with him.''


The Press