Hundreds of drivers of smaller trucks and buses are to have harsh penalties for speeding on the South Eastern Freeway in Adelaide thrown out.
Although police have yet to comment, SA Best MLC Frank Pangallo said that a test case scheduled for next week had been dropped, as were dozens of other alleged infringements on the notorious down track into Adelaide.
“Police prosecutors have begun contacting lawyers representing these motorists advising them they are discontinuing the charges and that SAPOL will pay their legal costs,” Pangallo told the The Advertiser.
“The State Government and SAPOL have saved themselves from a major embarrassment after SAPOL decided to drop charges against hundreds of motorists caught by speed cameras on the South Eastern Freeway.”
Traffic lawyer Karen Stanley confirmed that police prosecutors told her next week’s test case would be scrapped, along with the other similar ones she had on her books.
“This is a really really big win for all of those people who have been penalised under a really unfair law,’’ she said.
“The signs were ambiguous, there was no caution system, the laws were suddenly changed and people were losing their driving jobs for offences they didn’t even know they were committing.”
The Advertiser said that the abandonment may relate to Ms Stanley’s case, Woolmer v Police, in October 2020, in which the Supreme Court found that SAPOL’s testing of red light cameras did not meet the legal requirements for testing and accuracy.
It also speculated that the police action may also be because there had been great confusion about the definition of a heavy vehicle, even down to the number of seats on some buses.
“This bad piece of legislation has had enormous and devastating consequences,’’ added Pangallo.
“Hundreds of unsuspecting drivers of small trucks and commuter buses over 4.5 tonnes that were never intended by the Coroner to be covered by this harsh law were caught by speed detection cameras and hit with huge fines and automatic licence suspensions of 6 months, or face 12 months if they chose to be prosecuted in court.”
The tough laws and 60km/h speed limit, backed by cameras, were introduced in May 2019 to counteract a number of truck-related road deaths at the bottom of the freeway over the previous five years.
After a backlash, the penalties of up to $25,000, along with a 12 month licence disqualification, were reduced only seven months later because many truck drivers were losing their livelihoods.