Driver to fight $349 fine after sneaky camera snapped him holding a CHOCOLATE BAR

Furious driver vows to fight $349 fine after a sneaky camera snapped him snacking on a CHOCOLATE BAR behind the wheel – but police are convinced it’s a mobile phone

  • A motorist claims he was wrongly fined $349 for eating a chocolate bar
  • Scott Phillips was snapped by a hi-tech camera holding something in his hand
  • Police insist it was a mobile phone which the driver strongly disputes
  • The world-first AI mobile detection technology has been criticised by many

A man who was snapped by a mobile phone detection camera says he’s going to fight the $349 fine, claiming he was actually just eating a chocolate bar.

Scott Phillips, was captured by one of New South Wales’ 45 secret cameras using world-first AI technology to catch out dangerous drivers.

The image shows the NSW Southern Highlands man holding something in his left hand while driving, leaving Mr Phillips stung with a fine and copping five demerit points off his license.

But he says the photo clearly shows his phone on the dashboard proving the item in his hand was a delicious snack and not an electronic device.

Mr Phillips is adamant he does not own a second phone.

Scott Phillips was snapped by a mobile-phone detection camera but says he’s going to fight the $349 fine, claiming he was actually just eating a chocolate bar (pictured, the image in question)

The motorist has vowed to fight the fine saying the  photo clearly shows his phone on the dashboard proving the item on his hand was a delicious snack and not an electronic device

The motorist has vowed to fight the fine saying the  photo clearly shows his phone on the dashboard proving the item on his hand was a delicious snack and not an electronic device

‘It was probably sunnies or maybe a chocolate bar, I’m not entirely sure,’ Scott told 7NEWS.

‘Embarrassing I got caught eating chocolate in the car but it definitely wasn’t a phone.’

The cameras, which were first trialed in 2019, have stung tens of thousands of motorists across Sydney and the rest of the state.

Transport for NSW said the ground-breaking technology is saving lives in the state with 183 NSW road crashes between 2012 to January 2020, involving a driver using their mobile phone.

But hundreds of motorists have contested the hefty penalties arguing the fines are based on one still picture which is not enough to prove drivers were holding their phones.

Many drivers, like Mr Phillips, have claimed the cameras misidentified the objects they were handling.

In 2020, the state raked in more than $60million for mobile phone offences.

The secret hi-tech cameras use artificial intelligence software to automatically review images and detect offending drivers

The secret hi-tech cameras use artificial intelligence software to automatically review images and detect offending drivers

How the hi-tech cameras work

The high definition cameras have artificial intelligence to capture what’s happening behind the wheel.

If the AI thinks it’s caught you on your mobile phone, the image is reviewed by a human being.

If the reviewing officer agrees, you get sent a penalty notice.

Drivers or riders caught get a $349 fine and five demerit points off their license.

The fine increases to $462 if you are caught in a school zone.

In double demerit periods the penalty increases to 10 demerit points.

An unrestricted drivers’ license only has 13 points and if they are all lost, you lose your license.

You can see your photograph online by typing in your infringement number at the Revenue NSW website. Instructions are on the fine.

You can challenge any fine if you think it is in error.

The first step can be to write a letter asking for review to Revenue NSW.

You can also challenge your fine in court although you could suffer more costs if you lose.

Criminal lawyer Michael Mantaj is a staunch critic of the hi-tech cameras.

‘It presumes that any object you hold is a mobile phone,’ he told Nine News.

‘It’s almost as if by magic the law is turning a chocolate bar or a cup of coffee that you might be holding in your hand into a mobile phone.’

The State Government’s legislation shifts the onus of proof off of the Crown and onto the motorist.

It means the motorist would have to prove the item in their hand wasn’t a phone.

The onus of proof has always remained with the Crown and is the basis for ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

Mr Phillips said he shouldn’t have to prove he didn’t have a mobile phone in his hand.

‘It should be up to law enforcement to make that case themselves, not for me to disprove it,’ he said.

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