ACT Australian Federal Police Issuing Parking Fines in Private Car Park?

Discussion in 'Traffic Law Forum' started by Romano Lee, 3 April 2018.

  1. Romano Lee

    Romano Lee Active Member

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    I recently received a $714 fine in the mail from the Australian Federal Police. There were two fines: one for parking in a disabled spot ($600) and one for not parking properly in that parking spot ($114). I remember the night well.

    While the car was mine, I was not driving as I was not licenced at the time. A friend was driving and I was in the passenger seat. We went to the club for a coffee on the way home from a night out and only realised the park was a disabled spot as we exited the space. I received the fines in the mail a week later.

    While I understand the importance of adhering to parking laws, particularly relating to disabled parking spots (and have never before parked or been fined parking in disabled spots), I was shocked at the amount of the fine and the fact that I was being fined for parking in a space and fined again for not parking in the space properly (?!)

    My friend subsequently enquired with the club and the manager there was quite taken aback to learn that the Australian Federal Police had been handing out fines in the club's car park. I've noticed that since then, the club have had its parking lot boom gate down and have been issuing tickets to cars using its car park whereas it very rarely did this prior to being told of the parking fines.

    My question is this: do the Australian Federal Police have the authority to issue parking fines in private car parks without the permission of the car park owner? I can't find an answer to this online.

    My friend and I are currently unemployed and I have no idea how I'm going to afford to pay this. I know I'm not legally obliged to pay the fine and will have to state that my friend was driving (as I'm sure if I don't, I'll likely receive another fine for driving unlicenced), but I still feel compelled to pay at least the majority of the fine given the car is mine and it was at least half my fault for not noticing the disabled sign on the ground when we parked in the spot.

    Sorry for driveling on but I am desperate for help on how best to deal with this. Any opinions would be very much appreciated.
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Lawyer
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    One option is not to pay and elect to take the matter to court.

    Taking it to court means they have to prove they have the right to issue the fine despite possibly being on private property.

    If they prove that, then you have a possible defence: sign not clearly visible at night.

    The magistrate may:
    • Dismiss the charge
    • Find you guilty and dismiss the fine
    • Find you guilty and listen to your request for a payment plan at say $10/mth.
    Next option is ask them to withdraw the fine because ..... I don't like your chances of this happening.

    Final option is pay, possibly requesting a payment plan.
     
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  3. Adam1user

    Adam1user Well-Known Member

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    In addition to Rod, I am not sure whether the AFP are authorised to issue fines, but from common sense, they do, they are the police. In my opinion, the may not take notice of other offenses but parking in the disabled parking is considered a big no no, therefore the AFP requested/issued the infringement.

    My opinion is to go to court and if you have a good driving record, to ask the court to help you out, on the basis : good driving record, it was honest mistake, you are unemployed and that you will be more careful in the future. Also important to mention that is was your friend driving, not you.

    I think you would have a better chance this way. Going against the police is not a good defense unless you are 100% they are wrong, and you need to be very diplomatic when you mention it.

    Good luck.
     
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  4. Romano Lee

    Romano Lee Active Member

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    Rod, thank you very much for your time and help. It looks like my best (and perhaps only) option is to take this on the chin and seek a payment plan. I know there's no excusing parking in a disabled spot but the fine of $600 may as well be $10,000, as far as my being able to afford it goes, and the additional $114 fine for not parking properly in the spot seems almost a little malicious.

    I don't recall the car not being parked in the area correctly so I may enquire about this (I assume the officer would have taken a photo?).

    So having resigned myself to paying the fine by way of a payment plan, I'm faced with another conundrum. Not being the driver at the time, but feeling compelled to pay at least the majority of the fine (given my friend had offered to drive that night), I'm not sure how to proceed with this. I assume I would need to start by transferring the fine to my friend to avoid getting a further fine for driving unlicenced. However, once this is done, would it still be possible for me to negotiate a payment plan to pay the fine off? And, if so, do I arrange this through RUSIPO?

    I'm sorry for all the follow up questions but this is new to me and I really want to find a way through this with the least possible harm to my friendship, driving record and finances (the ship already having sailed on the latter obviously).

    I'd be most grateful for any information you can give me on this, and thank you again for your help so far.
     
  5. Romano Lee

    Romano Lee Active Member

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    Thank you very much Adam. Can I just clarify, even though I wasn't driving at the time, am I still legally required to pay the fine given I am the owner of the car?
     
  6. Rod

    Rod Lawyer
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    re: Transferring fine to friend.

    That's the safest way to avoid a possible follow charge of unlicensed driving. However I don't know ACT laws on fines. It may be possible to accept the fine purely as registered operator (owner) without other consequences. As long as you do not admit to driving at any stage, I doubt the police can charge you.

    re: Paying fine is the best option.

    I don't think it is but it does depend on other circumstances such as whether you are currently on parole, CCO or other, and you want to avoid court.

    re: Required to pay fine

    You are not required to pay the fine if you nominate another driver before the required date.
     
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  7. Adam1user

    Adam1user Well-Known Member

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    In addition to Rod's comments, I can mention to chat with your friend, as you stated that you feel both are at fault (not on purpose), so coming to an agreement between you two would be better and if you go to court (or call the authority if you don't go to court) and clarify if you can do as Rod wrote that to pay (as owner) without getting the points or other consequences, that would be the best way to go.
     
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  8. Romano Lee

    Romano Lee Active Member

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    Thank you guys for your thoughts on this. The idea of going to court is a bit daunting, although I cant imagine the worst case scenario being worse than paying the fines and whatever demerit points I'll incur (?).
    Thank you both again for your help explaining my options etc. Very much appreciated.
     
  9. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer
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    Whereas I am fairly sure that they are. Otherwise, the content in this link would not make sense.
    It may also be helpful to remember that the ACT Police is an arm of the AFP.
    This opinion should be approached with caution.
    I say this because, if I understand your original post correctly,
    it wasn't you driving, therefore it wasn't you who committed the offence,
    and you are therefore in no respect liable.
     
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