Several things in my life motivated me to write this book. Of course, the most important was the support of my wife, family, and friends. A prolonged period of unemployment helped too.
But the original reason I started writing this book was because I got a speeding fine one bright, sunny Sunday afternoon back in around 2010. I did not like it. Not one bit.
It was, and remains, my one and only traffic offence, and I was so embarrassed to receive it that I immediately began researching how I could get out of it. As you can tell from my reaction, I am very mature and always take responsibility for my actions.
I wrote a polite letter to the traffic infringement office in New South Wales, telling them I was sorry, that I had a perfectly clean driving record up to my speeding fine incident, and that I would never speed again. They must have been in a good mood when they read it, or felt sorry for me, as they wrote back to say that, just this once, the fine and loss of demerit points would be withdrawn.
I felt wonderful when I received their letter and promised myself then and there to make every effort to help other people get out of a speeding fine (legally). I wrote this section to live up to my promise, and I hope the following helps someone who has received their first speeding fine to feel as amazing as I did that Sunday afternoon.
There are several different approaches you can take to get out of a speeding fine. All work, in their own unique way, but involve varying degrees of effort:
Option 1 – Faulty speed camera
Argue that the speeding ticket was issued contrary to law – that means your car was detected speeding by a fixed speed camera and you got a speeding fine in the post, but you can prove that there was a fault in the camera that meant it incorrectly pinged you for speeding. For example, you can prove, somehow, that the speeding camera was incorrectly calibrated. Difficulty level: Hard.
Option 2 – Mistaken identity
Argue that the issue of the speeding fine involved a mistake of identity – for example, your evil twin or car-loving toddler was the one driving your car at the time it was detected speeding. Difficulty level: If you weren’t driving your car, pretty easy. If you were, oh so very, very hard.
Option 3 – Exceptional circumstances
Prove that there were exceptional circumstances that justified you speeding – examples include racing to the hospital where your wife is giving birth, driving home to catch the start of Better Homes and Gardens, or being pursued by zombies. Difficulty level: I guess it depends on your reason for speeding. Let’s go with hard-ish.
Option 4 – Write a nice letter asking for leniency
If you receive the speeding fine in any state or territory other than Queensland, you might be able to get out of a speeding fine and loss of demerit points by writing a nice letter to the government body that issued you with the fine, requesting leniency or that you be let off with a warning due to your awesome driving record. This is the one that I used, so it gets my nod of approval. *Nod*. Difficulty level: Impossible in Queensland, time-consuming but not hard everywhere else (if you keep reading this section, that is).
I’m not going to cover all of the above options here, but instead focus on how you can use Option 4. That is the option that, I expect, most of my beautiful readers will want to use if they receive a speeding fine in the post (again, so long as you did not get the speeding fine in Queensland, because Queensland hates speeding drivers).
Before we begin, let’s check to make sure you meet the minimum requirements for lodging a successful request for leniency.
1. You must have held a driver’s licence for a long time. For example, in New South Wales, you must have held an unrestricted licence for ten or more years, and you must not have lost any demerit point ever. So if you are a learner or provisional driver, have held your licence for less than ten years, or if you lost even one teeny tiny demerit point 30 years ago, then I would be very surprised if you are able to successfully request a warning or leniency for a speeding fine.
2. The speeding offence must be in the ‘low range’ – as a general guide, this means you were not going fifteen kilometres an hour or more over the speed limit. Also, you will never be successful in requesting leniency if you are caught speeding in a ‘special zone’, which are places like a school zone, at a zebra crossing, or in a pedestrian zone where you are meant to share the road with people on foot and drive super slowly.
3. You can only challenge a speeding fine and ask for a caution if there is nothing to suggest you were a little drunk or high at the time you were detected speeding.
Satisfy these three requirements? Hey, good for you! You are now ready to write a letter asking for a warning, instead of a fine and loss of demerit points.
Yes, you need to write a short letter to the government body that issued you the fine. It does not need to be long, I promise – 200 to 500 words should do the job, or maybe three paragraphs of text on an A4 piece of paper. Fifteen minutes work, and you’re done. Use polite, respectful language (use words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’; do not use words like ‘bastards’ and ‘just drumming up revenue’), and scribble your signature on the letter when you’re done for that personal touch.
What should you write about? Well, use the first paragraph to talk about your good driving record. Put down what year and month you got your unrestricted licence, how long you have had it without receiving a fine or losing any demerit points, and how you have always considered yourself to be a careful driver.
Use the second paragraph to say that you understand the serious consequences of speeding, that you will take much more care in the future, and that this particular speeding offence is an isolated event.
Use the last paragraph to politely request leniency for the speeding offence, instead of having to pay a fine and lose demerit points. End your letter with a statement to the effect that you appreciate that any leniency you receive is a one-off, and that you will never speed again.
Once you are ready, send your original, signed letter (along with a copy of the speeding notice) to the government department that issued you the fine. They are always named on the speeding notice (for example, you would send it to the State Debt Recovery Office in New South Wales).
Nine times out of ten, you will get a letter back, after a few stressful weeks, saying that you have received a warning for the speeding offence just this once, and that the fine and demerit points you would have otherwise received will be waived. Your official driving record will show, however, that you have used up your one and only caution. Still, what a great feeling, huh?
For those who receive a speeding fine in Queensland, I am sorry you will not be able to experience this joy. For you see, dear Queenslanders, your state has declared that all speeding offences are considered ‘life-endangering.’ That means you can’t ask for leniency or a warning when you receive a speeding fine in Queensland, no matter how good your driving record is. At least you win the State of Origin most years. Try and take some comfort from that.