There’s nothing quite like a story of a speeding teenager getting let off by a Dud Judge to get the opinions flowing. This week we hear of Kingston Webb, a resident of Napier (hmm, just what do you call that, a Napierian, a Napierite?). Anyway, young Kingston is a bloke who one evening decided to give his car a short squirt on a bit of dual carriageway near the Hawkes Bay Airport. Being young and dumb and full of c…, ahh, well, you know, anyway, he failed to notice the nice policeman approaching and got pinged for speeding.
He was speed checked at 148km/h, which being an 80km/h zone means he was, what the traffic cops might say, ‘fair bloody hauling arse mate’. At least that was probably what the local traffic enforcement specialist must have thought as rather than writing the young lead-foot up for a simple speeding ticket, he was charged with Dangerous Driving.
Now fair enough one might say, 68km/h over the limit is pretty out there, so it must have been dangerous, but was it really? Certainly, this was Kingston’s argument when he took the matter to court. He argued that other than his speed, there was nothing particularly dangerous about his driving. The road was good, there were two lanes on his side, a median barrier, no other traffic, (well obviously other than aforementioned Mr Plod), and the weather was lovely.
The Judge, a Mr David Harvey, felt obliged to agree with the young wannabe lawyer and chucked out the Dangerous Driving charge and replaced it with one of Exceeding 100km/h.
In my book, that’s fair enough. Judge Harvey weighed up all that he heard and based a decision around that. This is what we pay him for, and if he didn’t do it then you would have to do it, and I’m sure you have more important things to do with your day than listen to sob stories from drunken dickheads who really truly aren’t normally like that and it was really out of character…
Now for sure, we are want to give Dud Judges a serve when they seem to go all soft and squishy and give out hugs rather than penalties, but to be fair, sometimes they get it right and, in my opinion, this one did. Well pretty much so, he did only fine the young fella $400 plus costs which is quite a lot less than the maximum instant fine of $630 had he been caught at 46 to 50km/h over the limit but I guess the fact that the young fella was instantly disqualified for 28 days had some bearing on that.
I saw this type of charging all too often in the Police. It is extremely common for cops to lay an over the top charge knowing that they will likely reduce it at the hearing. Personally I think that sucks, and back when I was a PFC Sgt, I always instructed my staff to just go with the correct charge in the first place. It’s called integrity in my book, and it saves a hell of a lot of Court time and wasted lawyer’s fees.
“But that sort of speed is always dangerous” cry the commenters. Actually not just the commenters, but the Automobile Association too. Well, of course, they would, they used to be the champion of the motorist, but they have long since devolved into woke-scolding champions of Green causes, electric vehicles, travel guides and supermarket prostituting.
Mark Stockdale, Principal Advisor Regulations, (whatever that is), of the New Zealand Automobile Association, even had this dim-wittery to say.
There is no public road in New Zealand on which 148kmh is safe […] it would be unsafe regardless of what sort of car you were in.Stuff and Nonsense
Well as an enthusiastic petrolhead, who has driven probably millions of kilometres around New Zealand, including at warp speed both illegally and in the name of the law, I can tell you that Mr Stockdale is talking bollocks.
I can drive at 148km/h in my mates 550 horsepower Ford GT Supercar and it is a doddle, you wouldn’t even know you were doing it. In fact in my old Mustang that’s only 3rd gear, and I have the brakes, suspension and tyres that ensure that the car is perfectly safe at that speed. Sure, I don’t drive like my hair is on fire past schools, or built-up areas, because I know that can be dangerous and I have picked up way too many body parts from people who get it wrong, but on the new Waikato Expressway, sorry, but the speed limit is a joke.
I know this because I recently sat on cruise control at 180km/h for thirty minutes on a Croatian motorway and didn’t die even once, and those roads are very similar to our new expressways.
Of course there are reasons to have speed limits and road rules, I’m not suggesting anarchy here, (although removing them can actually force people to think about their driving).
What I am suggesting is that speed is not the evil the Police, and the AA, would have you believe, and it is high time the Police stop going for the high-score each time they get their ticket book out.
And if you believe that driving at 68km/h over the limit is always dangerous and deserves a six- month driving ban and a thousand dollar fine every single time, without exceptions, just think about that the next time you miss the badly located 30km/h sign, that was placed in a shadow, on a Sunday evening, in order to protect some orange cones on a side road you just passed, as you rock on through at 100.
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