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by Brett Davis

OWN GOAL – Judge blows own drink driving regulations; speed camera operator doubles limit in camera car

In two separate cases of massive irony recently, a former NSW Supreme Court judge who wrote some of the guidelines for drinking driving sentences has pleaded guilty to a drink driving charge. Meanwhile, a speed camera operator has been caught speeding at double the speed limit in a covert camera van.

Former Supreme Court judge, Roderick Howie, has pleaded guilty to a mid-range drinking driving charge this morning at Ryde Local Court. Mr Howie was unable to attend the hearing as he is on holiday in Japan, but sent a letter to the Ryde court saying that he expected to be fined and have his licence suspended.

The magistrate at Ryde was concerned about Mr Howie’s judgement on how serious the charge was however, saying that he had “unusual misapprehension about sentencing options”. There is a chance Mr. Howie could face time in jail.

In the incident in question, Mr Howie caused a three-car crash on Beecroft Road, near North Epping in Sydney, on May 19 earlier this year. He first ran up the back of a truck and then bounced off onto the other side of the road, hitting another car, all while under the influence of alcohol.

In 2004, Mr Howie was one of five judges on a panel arguing that the sternness of magistrates was too light, ruling that charges being laid onto drink drivers were not strict enough. Mr Howie was noted as saying,

“It is a criminal offence to drive a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol, and that substantial penalties, including imprisonment, are available to the courts to punish those who commit the offence.

“A person who commences to consume alcohol outside his or her home must appreciate that he or she runs the risk of reaching a level of intoxication at which it is a criminal offence to drive a motor vehicle.”

In another bout of irony, Stuart Rollo, a remote speed camera operator in Victoria, has been sacked after he was caught doing 102km/h in a 50km/h zone. Mr Rollo appealed the decision to fire him, but Commissioner G.R. Smith determined the job termination to be warranted under the circumstances.

Mr Rollo was caught speeding in the government fleet speed camera van on a number of accounts. The speed camera van was fitted with GPS tracking devices which can provide the locality and speed of the vehicle at any given time. The equipment registered Mr Rollo driving at 113km/h in a 100km/h in one instance, and then 102km/h in a 50km/h zone.

A Victorian Police vehicle then photographed him driving at 87km/h in an 80km/h zone. Some investigations were put forward surrounding the accuracy of the GPS tracking units, but Commissioner Smith said,

“In any event, to the extent that errors may exist, I find [on investigation evidence] that it is unlikely that any error could lead to the equipment not being able to discern the difference between 50 km/h and 102 km/h.”

What do you think of authoritative figures and representatives of law being caught for not practicing what they preach? Do you think they should get special royalties for charges? Or should they be treated the same as everyone else?




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