This article talks about a supposed “loophole” being exploited by motorists to avoid incurring demerit points speeding infringements and how the police and the government are not happy about people avoiding responsibility for breaking traffic laws.
This “loophole” involves vehicles that are registered in a company’s name as opposed to an individual. When a traffic infringement is issued by a speed camera or another automated system, the infringement notice is in the company’s name. Because companies do not attract demerit points like individuals do, the individual driver must be identified in order for the demerit points to be assigned to an individual.
Where no individual can be identified, the corporate body is required to pay double the fine.
But is this really motorists exploiting a loophole? I think not.
In any prosecution for a criminal offence including a traffic offence, it is incumbent upon the prosecuting body to identify the person alleged to have committed the offence. This is a basic and elementary requirement. It is the principle behind’s the age-old phrase “who done it?”.
It is one of the cornerstones of our justice system goes hand and goes hand-in-hand with other principles such as the presumption of innocence, proof beyond reasonable doubt, trial by jury, the right to silence and so on.
Yet in Western Australia, the police and the government seem to think that they don’t need to identify an offender anymore.
The police use rear facing speed cameras because they want to catch more people speeding. Rearward facing cameras are harder for drivers to spot or detect with electronic countermeasures. They also catch speeding motorbikes that do not have front license plates.
Now that the police have started using rearward facing speed cameras that make it nigh-on impossible to photograph the driver of the vehicle: it is suddenly become inconvenient to forget the requirement on them to identify the alleged offender.
Most motorists are not experts on traffic law in Western Australia. So when they receive a speeding fine, they assume they have to pay it even if the evidence in relation to the identity of the driver is woefully insufficient. The police know this. They know that in most cases honest motorists will do the work of the police by identifying somebody to take the points. This often occurs in circumstances where there is real and honest doubt as to who the driver is.
Requiring the police to identify the driver in an alleged speeding offence is not exploiting a loophole: exploiting the ignorance of honest people in order to have them incriminate themselves or another person most definitely is.