Are Police above The Law?

Does an officer on duty have the special privileges not to adhere to road laws? I've seen too many instances when police vehicles have run the red light, moving at least 20-30kph over the limit on normal roads, parking inappropriately (clearway, no stopping, metered parks without valid tickets).


  • +15 votes

    basically yes, they can break all the road rules.

    "Reasonable care"


      If they break the rules for no good reason then I don't see why 1(a)(ii) should apply. Then again, I'm no lawyer.

      • +2 votes

        it's so vague, one could probably use any excuse.

        If we look at the Yogo thread, i'm sure a lawyer could successfully argue the U-turn was required to have a quick break before the next job.

  • +6 votes

    Yep, like Davo says, the answer is YES.


    The key word is reasonable and the legislation does not include double standards!

    • +13 votes

      Of course there are double-standards, and that is entirely appropriate.
      Say a cop car gets a radioed instruction to proceed to a break-in in progress at an address, without the siren on, so as not to alert the intruder from a distance/let them get away. They are "allowed" to do whatever they deem to be safe on their way there; including driving through red lights, and speeding. And yes, to use the third example of the behaviour that the OP is outraged about, they don't have to "buy a valid ticket" to park, when they get there!
      Either the OP has not worded their question correctly, or it's a silly question.

      • -9 votes

        No double standards are not appropriate so I must agree to disagree there son!

        • +8 votes

          That's a naive over-simplification, so I reckon you should take a big dose of reality with your morning pills tomozza, dad!

        • +8 votes

          Nope, scientist. Hence the fact-based/ realistic/ logical point of view I suppose. May I ask what your profession is?

        • -6 votes

          @GnarlyKnuckles: Well mister scientist…
          Double standards are NOT acceptable.
          What is acceptable is that police vehicles are able to drive as required in a reasonable manner ONLY when necessary.

          Also, there is a provision in the road rules that 'turning on the light or sounding the alarm requirement' does not apply in reasonable circumstances.

          Your view was not logical - in fact, it reads as emotional. All the "" use does not go for a logical statement.

          The road rules are NOT an example of double standards as it is not the same situation as the OP was describing.

        • -7 votes

          Mister Scientist, you have completely missed the point of this discussion, standby and ill get back to you.

        • +5 votes

          Actually cimmers, I have not. If you read my responses carefully, you will see that they are direct responses to the content of the OPs original post.

          The OP asked:

          "Does an officer on duty have the special privileges not to adhere to road laws?"

          The specific examples that they (not me) cited were:

          "… running the red light, moving at least 20-30kph over the limit on normal roads, parking inappropriately (clearway, no stopping, metered parks without valid tickets)."

          So I responded to the OPs post, with a short answer, "YES", then a longer one, providing a specific example of an occasion where the OP might witness these breaches, but not actually be privy to the information that justifies them.

          It was a simple question, and I responded with a simple, logical answer. For some reason, you seem to think that because I didn't interpret the question in some abstract alternative way, that I have "missed the point" of it. I find that assertion somewhat humorous.

        • -1 vote

          Well Im not getting into a going nowhere debate with you, totally inefficient use of time in a forum like this….for the record, the double standards I am referring to are coppers disobeying laws/rules without justification, whether that be crime and/or traffic legislation. Obviously as you assert they are allowed to do it when a justification exists to enforce legislation etc. If they operate without justification then as the OP originally queried, they are above the law. Not that hard to understand in my view.

  • +6 votes

    Of course, there's a big difference between exemption from road rules and being "above The Law" in general as suggested by the title.

  • +3 votes

    Thankfully they aren't yet above the law in the same way police are above the law in the USA.

  • +3 votes

    the OP needs to raise this issue with Nico Toscani…

  • +6 votes

    In the performance of their duties, yes. Live with it.
    Cut them some slack… they have to deal with the lowest scum on earth day in day out.
    How long would you last having to deal with the human trash they have to deal with?


      Cut them some slack… they have to deal with the lowest scum on earth day in day out.

      This isn't Brazil or Mexico or South-Central in the 1980s.

      Stop using this tired, cliched plea for sympathy, as it underlines your fundamental perception problem of the popular representation of crime in Australia, ala Current Affair's latest "taze-the-crackhead" submission, versus the actual reality.

      Suburban Australia is a coddled, placated, mind-numbingly uneventful Stepford Wives stand-in, bereft of the serious criminality faced by the larger metropolises of the US or Latin America, for one.

      And don't give me any spiel about that "insert name of local ghetto you got threatened at with a shank once"; travel more and see what serious urban decay, gentrification and lawlessness looks like.

      I could actually agree with your argument if, like the United States, one police officer was killed in the line of duty every 58 hours.

      If, like in the state of Georgia, 38 officers lost their lives in just 5 years. If, like in Pittsburgh, a run-of-the-mil domestic disturbance call ended up with 3 officers dead and two wounded in the span of minutes. Not dissimilar to events in Oakland or West Memphis in the past couple of years.

      But we don't have that dire situation here.

      Do you know how many police officers NSW lost in the past 40 years? 16. Remember, the state of Georgia; population 9 million, lost very nearly that in just 5 years.

      For the entire country, between the years of 1948 to 2007, some 348 Australian police officers were killed in the line of duty. 70-80% of those deaths were ruled accidental (predominantly motor vehicle accidents). If you adjust the mean risk of injury or death to police by the factoring out the risk of bodily harm every individual faces when behind the wheel of a car, what you're left with is the very sobering analysis that policing in Australia is as dangerous as doing the night shift at your local servo or Blockbuster.

      To put that into perspective, the US state of South Carolina (population: 4.5 million) has lost more officers (majority by gunfire) than the nation of Australia has.

      In Australia, 20 people annually are killed in horse-riding accidents and 300 drown at our beaches each year.

      There are literally any number of run-of-the-mil occupations you could throw a rock at, including brick-laying or being a life guard, that are as dangerous or more dangerous than policing in Australia.

      I don't know what kind of cuckoo, loopy, straitjacket sh*t you're watching to be buying into that mass hysteria that your sleepy neighbourhood is actually Gotham City by night and you're life is on the line if you stay out past 9PM; but you are obviously falling for the classic, Benjamin Franklin-derived bait & switch tactic that authority figures have tried to use on unsuspecting populaces since time immemorial.

      Do you honestly believe each day in the shoes of a beat cop here is like a scene out of Training Day with Denzel Washington?

      I mean, what else do you feel is justified in this sunny deathtrap you know as Australia?
      Do you want them to be able to roll up to people's houses in ex-military MRAPs like in the US and serve no-evidence warrants just so the local doughnut-slingers can test out their new toys?

      Sooner or later, that stuff will wash onto our shores too and policing will take on an entirely unsympathetic tone to the majority of people.

      I see more underpaid, under-trained and resourced-starved Transit Security Officers running around playing British Bulldog with skinny, Centrelink queue jumpers at train stations than I do actual, uniformed police doing anything other than posing like a bunch of hard b*stards in front of cafes and take-away joints, with their sleeves rolled up to show off those sick tribal tatts, obviously to reinforce their dependability in mortal danger, because tribal tattoos as we well know are litmus tests for Rhodes Scholars in Australia.

      • +4 votes

        Do you honestly believe that the only danger that Police ever face is being killed?
        What about the stress and psychological damage of having to pull dead bodies out of vehicles, or leaving kids to live with deadbeat parents? Couples beating one or the other bloody but not pressing charges?

        • -2 votes

          Do you honestly believe that the only danger that Police ever face is being killed?

          No I don't and you, unlike xywolap, the carte-blanche authority apologist, have made a good point.

          But I rebut that with a simple, yet easily escapable truth: police officers have no duty of care, legally, to save lives and do not risk their lives for complete strangers.

          Law enforcement is exactly that. Enforcing legal minimums. They don't appear out of the woodwork when knives are at people's throats and homes are being ransacked. They appear after the fact to assign blame and dole out legal liability.

          Your average John Q. Constable earning a meager >$80,000 annually is not up for putting his life on the line for a complete stranger he's never met, just as he's about to wrap up an unforgiving shift.

          And nor should he be, because he is a man bound to civilian law, woefully ill-equipped and mentally/physically-prepared to be pulling stunts straight out of Black Hawk Down every second day on the job.

          I don't think even in the most idealistic of societies, that it would be ethical or realistic to ask police officers to consider themselves expendable and to willfully put themselves in danger to mitigate risk to ordinary citizens.

          If you think you can place that amount of trust into people who are only separated from the other side of the "Thin Blue Line" by 12 months of training (half of which is throwaway academy bullsh*t that never sees the light of day and a good amount of which is on-the-job training), then you're most likely a hypocrite, because in few other professions do we hand out that amount of responsibility and power like it's no big deal.

          The results of what happens when you turn policing into anything more than law enforcement are crystallized very obviously by the United States. If you need to be shown what's wrong with that picture, you need to be shown a short pier.

          The conspicuously-paranoid and overtly hostile, domestic military known as "The Police" in the US have a callous disregard for organised civility and treat everything with an incredible degree of expendibility as long as the local department's statistics of collared criminals is high enough to warrant budgeting increases.

          Ordinary cops over here, like the rest of us, want to get home each day, microwave some dinner and veg out in front of a screen.

          Setting them up to be a band of noble white knights only concerned with altruistic ideals and a lifetime commitment to the solemn service of others is only cognitively dissociating oneself from the stark reality that only you yourself can truly be responsible and prepared for your own well-being and safety and sadly that is a thought that almost all Australians leave unpondered until the very last minute.

          I know long-standing attendants of a prominent shooting range in WA who have competed nationally and internationally in silhouette-shooting tournaments. That facility is used by WAPOL for pistol qualifying annually. Australian police have to re-certify their weapons handling and familiariastion every year and achieve scores of 100% (though if they don't achieve 100% they'll simply get remedial training until they're up to snuff; just like in Outcomes-based education, you can't really fail).

          These professional shooters that I know (and I use that term in the strongest possible sense, and orders of magnitude above any marksmanship and weapons proficiency skills displayed by any law enforcement officer in Australia) have told me many a time, how even multiple-year veterans of WAPOL will hit the overhead baffles from 5 meter draw. Even when they're not being pressured or timed. In laymen's terms, that's like seeing Chris Judd miss a free kick from well inside the 50 metre line. Their muzzle discipline is also noteworthy for being not just bad, but downright frightening in crowded areas.

          God forbid a good majority of them should ever have to make the call to use their weapons in life-or-death situations with adrenaline in their veins and a never-before-felt sense of anxiety because who knows who could be liable to die in such scenarios.

          I know not everyone has an in-depth understanding of Policing as a career, but what you do discover talking to real police officers and people in their social circles, and is that they really are, no different from you or I.

          And that is both very assuring and very unnerving, depending upon the circumstances.


          @Amar89: Interesting perspective.


          nice essay guys

  • -1 vote

    Nowadays you are more scared to see police than feeling safe and protected

    • +13 votes

      That is simply not true. I feel perfectly safe around the police, I have no delusions of them being bad in any way.

  • -1 vote

    Police cars making illegal u-turns and traveling on tramlines. And they don't look in a hurry, just patrolling..

    • +1 vote

      "… traveling on tramlines"

      Erm… anyone's allowed to do that.


        I'm guessing he/she meant in dedicated tram lanes where normal cars are not supposed to be.

    • +3 votes

      Driving on a separated tram line by any emergency vehicle is not illegal, even when not responding to a job.
      Like you said, they could be patrolling, or transporting someone, or just getting back to the station for a shift change.

      Just as likely they could be going to deliver a death notice, they want to get there quickly but it doesn't call for using lights and sirens.

      Ultimately most road rules include provisions in them that emergency vehicles do not have to abide by them. It's not being above the law, because that is the law. Nor is it a double standard, different road rules apply to trucks, buses, trams, learner or provisional drivers too.


        Another insightful response. I'm impressed with the quality of some of the responses that this post is generating. For some reason I was expecting a lengthy series of "anti-establishment" rubbish, but I must say I've been very pleasantly surprised!


    They need McDonalds services more than you - so of course they can do what they want.

    Now, bow down to your overlords and don't question it.

  • +3 votes

    The spirit, if not the letter, of the legal exemptions quoted above is that these exemptions will be used in the situation of emergency or where doing so is unavoidable, but not in the ordinary course of being on the road or even walking on the street. This is obviously necessary for police to be able to do their job at times.

    The objections that most reasonable citizens have is that a good percentage of modern day police drive, park and act like they are above the law. Highway patrol officers can be total louts on the road and do so enough in non emergency situations to make it obvious they don't care what people think.

    Another frequent issue is parking, often near police stations, wherever they like regardless of signage and inconvenience to others, and most noticeably where I live, where they drive to get lunch and park illegally and sometime dangerously. Any normal citizen doing this would be fined immediately and heavily by the Council or the police.

    The problem is even if you object using photos and letters - I'd never personally tick off an officer and they're likely to trump up some issue to hammer you with - as I've done in the past, you get the usual bureaucratic responses and the behaviours continues unchecked. They cannot legally stop you photographing them and cannot take the phone camera off you.

    I guess my major objection to the mentality pervading this small percentage of the police force is that once they feel they are above the law you have the seeds of potential corruption being sown, if they can get away with this minor stuff then why not something more major?

    • +3 votes

      Emergency vehicles are exempt from many parking restrictions, especially near a police station.
      Their cars need to be quickly accessible 24/7, they dont have time to run three blocks up the road to get their car.

  • +5 votes

    Here we go again, didn't we have one of these awhile back about some ethical issue involving cops, U turns and asian sweet food?

    • +1 vote

      "… U turns and asian sweet food"

      That poster asked a completely different question; they asked if it was justified for cops to break the standard road-rules, just to double-back and pull into some food joint to get their lunch. They asked a specific question, with a very specific example, and of course, got a long list of responses (appropriately) in the negative.
      In contrast, the question that this OP has posted strongly suggests that they lack a genuine understanding of what the cops actually do, and why a different set of laws applies to them, to enable them to do these things. As some wise responders above have said, they are not 'above the law', the fact is that different laws apply to them.
      In an abstract sense, I suppose this could be construed as a 'double-standard', but a completely justified one. It is a 'double-standard' in the same way as, for example, even if I believe someone has nicked my stuff I am not allowed to break into their house and look for it, but the police, with a warrant, are.

  • +5 votes

    It all depends, if the police are on the way to getting yogurberry then concessions need to be made.

  • +4 votes

    Of more concern is the history of this poster!!!!!

    A google search training course would be more appropriate!!!!


      'A google search training course would be more appropriate'

      Of all the responses in this thread OP, ironically this is probably the one you could gain the most from, in the long-term. Even though it has nothing to do with your actual question.

  • +8 votes

    For the police, any and all applicable laws are bunk, whilst in the acquisition of Yogurberry.

    ref: Yogo for Po Po Act 2014


    Depends what cop you ask.

    I've had cops use their sirens and lights right behind me, I pulled over only to have them pass me, turn them off and keep driving. I still don't get what that was about.

    But the cop I go to gym with with, he has said they can drive a bit quicker and such as they need to, but nothing extreme. His very down to earth.

    On the other hand, an ex-cop I work with has a different attitude, he believes police are completely above they law. Cops sleeping with people who would other wise be fined is completely okay, if that is the way the cop wishes to handle the situation then that is at his discretion. No one at work likes him.

    clearway, no stopping, metered parks without valid tickets

    Those are all a yes provided the cop is on duty and it is for work purposes.

    • +7 votes

      On the other hand, an ex-cop I work with has a different attitude, he believes police are completely above they law. Cops sleeping with people who would other wise be fined is completely okay, if that is the way the cop wishes to handle the situation then that is at his discretion. No one at work likes him.

      Why do you think he's an ex cop?


    It is also quite similar to asking, are the super rich, famous and well connected above the law? For all intents and purposes more so than us mortals.

  • +1 vote

    "metered parks without valid tickets"

    What even?

    Look in the end yes there are some d head cops, I have a mother whom is one (Not a d head just has worked with them). They've all got their just deserts sooner or later.

    In the end our society is much better off by them being there, and when you need them you will be glad they are.

  • +3 votes

    If cops are on duty, then yes they should have the leeway to do these things eg speed. How else are they going to respond to emergency as soon as possible. How else can they scan for illegal cars…etc. As to illegal parking, do you want cops coming late to your emergency call because they can't find a parking spot?

    Cut them some slack man.


    I'm not sure if it applies now but I know an ex cop who told me that when he was working, the police have a sort of licence to speed. Now here I'm assuming this is only while on duty and in non emergency situations (obviously in emergencies they can go however fast they need to).
    He said that there were different grades of licence, that the lowest was 10km/hr above the speed limit, next was 30km/hr above, then the last was any speed which apparently was only for highway cops or something.

    • +1 vote

      I'm not sure I would call it a license to speed.

      But there is a scheme where police officers need to essentially obtain certification to pursue vehicles at up to their designated speed.

      If an emergency vehicle is caught by a red light or speed camera they need to justify it. Making a run for milk doesn't cut it these days.


      'He said that there were different grades of licence, that the lowest was 10km/hr above the speed limit, next was 30km/hr above, then the last was any speed which apparently was only for highway cops or something.'

      Clearly this is a 'fantasy-rant', generated by a child? Surely no one with the mental capacity to access the internet and navigate to this particular site (regardless of age) would actually believe this tripe?

      • +1 vote

        Not great wording but there are indeed different levels of qualification for driving a Police car.. You have to be suitably qualified to participate in a high speed pursuit…


    Thats the perks of doing a dangerous job.


    another funny trolling post aiming our cops!


    Is the “Law” really Law..?
    What if there were some pretend laws in the country..?

  • +3 votes

    What's your point? What are you trying to prove??!!??.. You know the answer! There's always the good and the bad cops! I believe there is more good than the bad.

    • +1 vote

      Easy If you read carefully the op says

      I've seen too many instances when police vehicles have run the red light, moving at least 20-30kph over the limit on normal roads, parking inappropriately (clearway, no stopping, metered parks without valid tickets).

      Really - "Too Many" and at "LEAST 20-30kph over the limit" - even cops have to use radar to determine this accurately. Parking etc

      all massive generalisations. Either that or they are cop stalkers following their every move.

      Hey I am lucky to see a cop on the beat/driving etc. My son even thinks Cops only have one eye (The other is hidden behind the radar gun), thats the only time he sees them.

      Look at the Op's posting history - its full of exaggerations and weird claims.

      Makes a post and never comes back and everyone falls for it. TROLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAA


        "I've seen too many instances when police vehicles have run the red light, moving at least 20-30kph over the limit on normal roads, parking inappropriately (clearway, no stopping, metered parks without valid tickets)."

        But did you use a radar gun, or you just assume it was going that fast… was the copper blocking the road unnecessary? Yep it's great for you people to have a good sook or a rant about the cops. LOL really a parking ticket?


    OP, in short, no they don't have a blanket exemption from road rules - both when driving and when parking. Davo1111 pointed you to the correct clause (305) in the Road Rules, but neglected to mention that for marked Police cars that exemption only applies when they've got the sirens/lights on. Also, clause 307 deals with the exemptions for Police when parking.

    I think you'll also find other exemptions in the Law Enformcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act but it's a bit time consuming to go looking for them right now.

    Also, there are some general exemptions that apply to everybody in emergency situations but they're a little tricky to find. For various reasons, offences under the NSW Road Rules are governed by the Commonwealth Criminal Code rather than the NSW Crimes Act.

    As for what you do when you see cops breaking road rules without their sirens or lights on - you can report it. You can make a statement at your local Police station. It helps to have a photo or a video. Police are obliged to take your complaint seriously. Roughly the procedure is that the complaint will be referred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) so that Police don't have to prosecute themselves. I have seen Police prosecuted in the Local Court for parking infringements.

    And yes, sometimes people think you should cut cops some slack, and sometimes people think cops should follow the rules more strictly than anyone, and there are lousy cops who abuse their position and there are amazing cops who do a lot to let us live with less fear and more freedom. It's complicated, and you'll have to figure it out for yourself.


      that exemption only applies when they've got the sirens/lights on.

      Go re-read it, it doesn't say that.

      It says that they should have lights and sirens on UNLESS it is reasonable not to



        You're right that there's a further exemption if it's reasonable not to display the sirens/lights, and I should've been clearer about that in my post. The default position is that marked Police cars have to display sirens/lights before breaking the road rules, and even then it has to be reasonable to break the road rules.

        I reckon it's not a vague provision and it's a pretty narrow set of circumstances where it will be reasonable to break the road rules and meet the further exemption of it being reasonable not to display the lights.

        I'm still keeping my neg on your original post :) I think it's misleading to say that they can break all the rules if they just take reasonable care.



          pretty narrow set of circumstances where it will be reasonable to break the road rules

          But it really isn't. The term 'reasonable' is vague. It doesn't explicitly say you must be going to a call - or even detailing what code it would be. (i.e. code 4 is lights and sirens)

          I'm still keeping my neg on your original post :

          It's okay :)


    I just want to know if it's possible or allowed for one cop to ticket another cop? Or a ranger offering cops a ticket would be funny.


      Yes, it is not only possible, it has happened; instances of it have been reported in various newspapers over the years. Usually the context is an off-duty cop getting 'stung' by an operation set up to catch 'Joe public'… like a booze-bus or some-such.
      Then there's speed cameras. I seem to recall that years ago the Herald Sun requested (and eventually got) some information on how many cops had received speeding fines via speed-cameras, how often, the penalties they got, etc.


    Yes, they are.


    The police is not above the law only in some instances (in case of emergency) they have other privileges or rules to follow. But they are still responsible for the risks and actions they take.