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Truckie beats $690 ticket for allegedly breaching Grafton curfew

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Sometimes common sense can prevail when fighting infringement notices, as a relieved Cathy Avenell and her truckie partner Ken Smith recently found out.

After Avenell successfully argued Smith’s case for a penalty notice review, Revenue NSW quashed the $690 ticket Smith received for allegedly breaching the truck curfew on the old Grafton bridge last month, by just two minutes.

Smith had been on his way to Walgett from Casino at the time, and had called Avenell to ask for the best route for his B-double loaded with cattle. Avenell would normally be there in the cab with him but was stuck at home in Corinda under Covid lockdown orders.

A quick search by Avenell on her tablet showed a swing through Grafton as the best option, with a crossing of the old town bridge, both unaware that there was now a newer alternative open over the Clarence River just 70 metres downstream.

Smith said that on approach, however, the town’s signage sent him over the old road and rail crossing, known as Bendy Bridge, with no warning that the historic bridge had a morning truck curfew from 7.30am-9.30am.

The enforcement officers from the north-east Weight of Loads Group (WOLG) who were nearby also failed to warn him of the curfew conditions by UHF, and that all he had to do was continue on a few metres more and cross the new bridge.

Instead, Avenell said they simply followed Smith’s Western Star across and pulled him over, before issuing the ticket for allegedly crossing at 9.28am – two minutes inside the curfew – and questioning whether his trailers were of legal length (they were).

A fuming Avenell later called the Ballina Shire Council, the WOLG administrators for the area, and made her case.

“As I explained to the officer, everyone’s watches and clocks are different and two minutes is not much to be out by,” said Avenell.

“I also explained that the signs to the Pacific Highway send you over the old bridge with no warning of a curfew.

“Those officers from the Weight of Loads Group could have called him over the UHF to say keep going and cross over the new one, but they didn’t.”

It was a relieved Avenell who opened a letter from Revenue NSW last week to confirm they had agreed to cancel the penalty notice – and also request that Transport for NSW investigate the signage issues.

“Start looking after these truck drivers, instead of taking all their money away,” was Avenell’s final message.

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