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South Australia Cancels Dubious Red Light Camera Tickets
Red light camera tickets tossed in South Australia following high court decision raising accuracy doubts.

Justice Greg Parker
Unpaid red light camera tickets in South Australia issued prior to October 8 do not need to be paid. Authorities announced that they would no longer attempt to pursue payment of disputed citations after the state government lost an appeal in the Supreme Court of South Australia.

Justice Greg Parker cited evidentiary concerns in overturning the citation issued by a machine to motorist David Woolmer in Adelaide. Woolmer successfully argued that there was no proof that the Jenoptik Traffistar SR520 red light camera was operating properly when it accused Woolmer's white Holden sedan of turning right at the intersection of Magill Road and Portrush Road on March 14, 2018, against a light that had allegedly been red for less than a second.

Under state law, red light cameras need to have calibration tests performed on a monthly basis. A document introduced at trial stated that a test had been performed on the device on February 26, but Woolmer noted that the man who performed the certification admitted that turn lane sensors were never directly tested, as required. The trial magistrate, however, disagreed about the need for such tests.

"It is not surprising that Mr. Dellow did not conduct a test taking exposures of a vehicle turning right contrary to a red arrow, given the danger (and illegality) of such a test on one of Adelaide's busiest intersections, or the disruption that such a test would cause if traffic was stopped in all directions for the test to be conducted," Magistrate Gregory Charles Fisher ruled.

Woolmer appealed, insisting that the calibration paperwork should have been excluded as evidence since required tests were never performed on vehicles making turns. The high court agreed, pointing out the validity of camera evidence rests entirely on the accuracy of the timing of the photographs taken of an alleged violation.

"There may be other less onerous or potentially dangerous ways of conducting the test in accordance with the regulations," Justice Greg Parker ruled. "However, the onus is not on the appellant to provide such alternatives. The fact that police may find compliance with the statutory requirements for testing to be difficult, time consuming or impractical does not negate the requirement for compliance or render the regulations open to a construction other than their literal meaning."

The court found the magistrate had made unfounded assumptions about the relevance of the tests that were performed on the camera. With the evidence ruled unlawful, South Australian authorities decided to drop all outstanding tickets issued prior to a change in testing methodology implemented on October 8. A copy of the ruling is available in a PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Woolmer v. South Australian Police (South Australia Supreme Court, 10/2/2020)

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