Family Member Got a $2300 Fine + Loss of Licence at Glaston Gorge

G’day OzBargainers.

About a month ago, the 20th of March, my mother was driving the family caravan from our grandparents in Wahroonga to our house in Dural and was seemingly unaware of the new camera at Montview Parade in Hornsby Heights which detects trucks longer than 7.5 meters. The motorhome is a 2014 Talvor Mercedes Sprinter Euro Deluxe which is 7.7m according to manufacturer specs. While she did not get stuck, she copped a $2270 fine and 6 demerit points which hits hard. She’s disappointed because she was convinced the van would make it and this was the first time she took the route as there was a road closure between Old Northern and New Line road.

Is there any way to get the fine reviewed on the grounds of a road closure which would have meant that the only alternate route would have been M1 to Wisemans to rural ferry which is a massive hassle.

Thanks for any feedback.

P.S. I am doubtful that the fine will be revoked but I’m wanting to know if there is a chance.

Edit: Thanks everyone for your advice. We are currently in the process of writing a letter of request for consideration of the matter. The points to be discussed will definitely include the light vehicle status of the campervan and the calibration of the radar gun used to measure the length of the vehicle. Hopefully this ordeal can be sorted as it is definitely worth the try.

Comments

  •  

    yeah, should be able to get out of it.

  •  

    You reckon?

    • +11 votes

      I think so?

      Heavy vehicles and buses that are 7.5 metres in length are subject to enforcement action under the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2008 Rule 104 and 106(2).

      Light vehicle combinations that include cars carrying trailers, boats or horse floats that exceed 7.5 metres are permitted to enter Galston Gorge. However, light vehicle combinations are reminded that vehicle combinations above 11 metres are unlikely to be able to navigating the tight bends in the Gorge based on recent surveys.

      https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/sydney-north/galston-gor...

      Caravan =?= light vehicle???

      • +8 votes

        I think the OP is talking about a motorhome which is essentially a truck. I don’t think OPs mum was towing a van.
        https://www.caravancampingsales.com.au/items/talvor/mercedes...

        You can’t drive a truck in areas it tells you not to, the fines a large because people get these things stuck in tunnels and gorges all the time which often delays traffic for hours.

      • +21 votes

        Do you need a heavy vehicle licence to drive it? If not I would strenuously argue it is a light vehicle single combination.

        • +5 votes

          Heavy vehicles and buses that are 7.5 metres in length are subject to enforcement action.

          As long as OP's vehicle is under 4.5 ton and seats 12 or less people, OP's motor home is not a heavy vehicle and should not be included in enforcement.

          OP's vehicle is not a combination. It is a motor home. Just because combinations are expressly permitted does not mean non combinations are not.

        •  

          The point of the restrictions is to prevent trucks and buses that will have issues with the bends. a Motorhome would definitely be a type of vehicle they would perceive as problematic over 7.5 as unlike car/trailer combos you can't just unhook it if you get stuck on a bend. I doubt he will get much sympathy from them trying to argue that they are allowed under "light vehicle combinations"

          would also highly recommend AVOIDING trying to argue it would have been inconvenient to go the long way, that would garner even less sympathy than the light vehicle combo argument.

      • +5 votes

        I'd question whether the RMS website is accurate. The actual legislation (Rule 104 (2), Road Rules 2014 Regulation), doesn't limit it to trucks, stating that any vehicle (other than a bus - buses are covered under 106) must not pass a "no trucks" sign which has a specified length, where that vehicle exceeds the specified length.

    •  

      I think you have no chance to be honest, but I would still try a letter.

      “ Any vehicle with a
      combined length of
      more than 7.5 metres
      is an overlength vehicle,
      in Galston Gorge.
      This includes most cars
      with trailers, boats
      or horse floats.”
      from: https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/projects/sydney-north/g...

  • +2 votes

    On what grounds do you think the fine could be revoked?

    I can't see the two roads you mentioned being completely closed as they are both major roads in and out of the hills shire. If there was a closure, it would only be a small section with detours put in place to get around it. Do you have any records confirming complete road closures, as this could help your case?

      • +12 votes

        Ah, right. So there was no official road closures - just Google maps showing you congestion/delays in the late afternoon. That is normal in Sydney peak hour traffic, especially on main arterial roads.

  • +25 votes

    Just had a look this stuff, never heard of it before.

    There are 11 warning signs along that road, and it shows a car with a caravan too, so ignorance is no defense here.

    https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/projects/sydney-north/g...

    • +7 votes

      The link KBZ posted says:

      "Multiple signs have been installed on both sides of the Gorge along with a vehicle detection system and vehicle activated variable message signs (VMS). These signs will be updated to advise motorists that light vehicle combinations over 7.5 metres are not affected."

      So if a caravan can be counted as a light vehicle, I think OP has a chance.
      I think for $2k and 6 points I would pursue it.

    • +6 votes

      including the "Electronic measuring device that measures the length of vehicles and triggers a message sign warning the drivers of those overlength vehicles to turn around 2 electronic signs that tells you not to enter after your photo has been taken at the two electronic photo points"

    • +1 vote

      Same with me. Was about to post the exact same link. It would appear the camera was installed about 18 months ago in October 2017 hardly new.

      I thought Victoria was a nanny state. But double demerits and a $2300 fine. Wow.

      If KBZ's link is correct I would dispute it. Depends where campervans fit in to "light vehicles".

      Ask your mother to write in saying that she understood she would be ok based on that, that she was unfamiliar with the roads and the area.

      Is there any way to get the fine reviewed on the grounds of a road closure which would have meant that the only alternate route would have been M1 to Wisemans to rural ferry which is a massive hassle.

      "a massive hassle" is not a good excuse.

      •  

        I used to think Victoria is bad, but while on a work trip I got a fine for something that is legal in Vic but not in NSW.

        $340 and 3 points. The relevant website doesn't even list it as a rule for visitors to be aware of.

        Appealed and was denied on the grounds I don't have a 10 year clean driving record, gee thanks, didn't have a 10 year driving record full stop.

        Ugh, still get angry about it.

    •  

      Good link. I notice it says:

      Drivers of overlength vehicles who enter the gorge incur a penalty of up to $3740 and six demerit points, with the risk of having their registration suspended.

      Sounds like OP's Mum was lucky to only get a $2300 fine.

      That said, the police might be generous enough to use their discretion to issue a still smaller fine.

      I would at least look at requesting a review and smaller fine/penalty on leniency grounds, but admit the mistake.

      https://www.revenue.nsw.gov.au/help-centre/resources-library...

  • +4 votes

    Give Ray Hadley a ring he will help you out…..

  • +1 vote

    Glaston Gorge

    The sensor on Galston road is over sensitive. It kept tagging SUV with >4x3' trailers.

    https://tinyurl.com/y2onx5gb
    https://tinyurl.com/y5y8dk8q

  • +3 votes

    People are always getting stuck at GG. I assume this is to prevent/compensate for the massive hindrance and cost when they do.

  •  

    The difference is 200mm. Ask for a review and evidence of their measurements.

    • +2 votes

      wouln't gardennomes mum then have to prove that the caravan is 200mm less than the manufactures measurements??
      not a good approach if council provide evidence of calibration of their machine.

      • -3 votes

        No. The state is alleging that the registered operator of the vehicle has committed an offence. They're required if asked to provide evidence to support the allegation.

        •  

          oh, ok. I thought they would have evidence when issuing fines, that is a very good loophole. Thankyou

        • +2 votes

          Traffic offenses are strict liability offences.

          The onus therefore is on you to prove your innocence, otherwise everyone will just say to police/road authority to prove their case

          •  

            @chumlee: https://coodecorry.com.au/strict-liability-v-absolute-liabil...

            Traffic offences are often strict liability offences, so this means that the Police only need to prove that you did speed, not that you intended to speed.

            https://nswcourts.com.au/articles/what-is-the-standard-of-pr...

            However, the prosecution still needs to prove each ingredient of the offence.

            And there are also a number of legal defences that are available in strict liability cases, including where you made an “honest and reasonable mistake”.

            What Evidence Can Police Use?

            In order to support their allegations, police must be able to provide evidence of your alleged wrongdoing to the court.

            http://www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au/Pages/representing/driving_o...

            Many driving offences are known as 'strict liability' offences. This means the prosecutor must prove that you committed the offence, but does not need to prove that you meant (intended) to break the law. For example, for a charge of mid range PCA, the police don't need to prove that you drove knowing you were intoxicated. They only have to show that:
            you drove your car (or tried to), and
            you had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of between 0.08 and 0.149.

            •  

              @whooah1979: Yes so you need to challenge the fine a prove your innocence.

              So what legal argument is OP's mother use? You think the courts haven't heard the "prove it" defence from the public before??

              If she fails she will be up for costs also.

            •  

              @whooah1979: Found the keyboard lawyer with no clue.

              Every state knows that these specific fines will be contested on a regular basis, simply due to the fact nobody likes to pay a fine. Thus why they use calibrated equipment and record every calibration. Unless there is a gross failure of the systems in place - they can always, and will always, be able to prove this offence occurred.

              Worst case scenario they subpoena OP's mum and measure the vehicle.

          • +1 vote

            @chumlee: Strict liability just means that they do not need to prove intent. They still need to prove the offence - beyond reasonable doubt.

      •  

        It would be easy for council to say the measurement is just a rough catch of long vehicles, then from photo of registration plate check out manufacturer specs, allowing driver to dispute.

        •  

          but won
          t the driver then have to prove that the vehicle is 200mm shorter than it actually is, how does this help?

  •  

    The fine is very expensive but I understand why. Write a letter - first offence, good driving history blah blah and see how you go. I suspect however that you will have to pay the fine - lesson learned!

    • +9 votes

      Unsure if this will be a first office if OP states "loss of license" over 6 demerit points, unless I'm reading it wrong…

  • +1 vote

    You should have a go and put it in writing to them, it depends on what is considered a light combination vehicle, but if as others have said the signs indicate that caravans are not allowed then I don't like your chances.

    It's a really steep fine though and worth having a go given there was a road closure.

  • +2 votes

    Max fine is $3740 so if you take it to court the judge might slap you with the max penalty

  • +5 votes

    was seemingly unaware of the new camera at …

    Did your mother see this sign but miss the camera?

    • +18 votes

      that's not the only sign! "On approach to Galston Gorge 11 overlength warning signs were installed in December 2016 in addition to six existing prohibition signs."

      This includes two electronic signs that only trigger after the electronic measurement point (where a photo of your vehicle is taken if it is deemed to be over 7.5m in length). The electronic signs distinctly tell the offending vehicle to turn around, and a turning bay is provided to accommodate this.

      https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/projects/sydney-north/g...

      So in essence, that is a lot of warning signs to ignore …

    •  

      Also that sign says loss of registration, but OP says loss of licence?

  •  

    Weight may come into this does your mother drive the camper on a standard car license? If so i cant see that it would be classed as a heavy vehicle and it is definitely not a bus.Note some camper conversions have there weights downgraded so they can be driven on a car license including some of the coaster buses.

    • +1 vote

      Can you please explain how weight will have any bearing on this driver infringing on a length requirement? #logicfail

      • +2 votes

        Because it will not fall into the description of what is not allowed.."Heavy vehicles and buses that are 7.5 metres in length are subject to enforcement action under the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2008 Rule 104 and 106(2)."

  • +4 votes

    Know what I’m doing next weekend… going for a drive on this road. I never even knew it existed. Sounds interesting.

    But yeah, copious amounts of warning signs and flashing signs telling you to turn around might have been a big give away.

    Another question. How heavy is this “motor home” if it is 7.7m long, I’d be keen to know how heavy it is and if your mum has the right class of license to be hauling that big rig anywhere, let alone at this place…

    •  

      Google says they are around 3550kg, so you can drive it on a NSW C Class licence

      • +1 vote

        Yeah, I found a page where it says it has a GVM of 4,490kg. That’s 10kg under the C class license cut off. Some of their motor homes at that GVM looks like it would leave about enough weight for a very light driver and their wallet.

        I wouldn’t like to be driving some of these on a C class and getting waved into a weigh station with everything on board for a holiday. At the size of some of them, there would not be a lot in it to go over the GVM.

        • +2 votes

          GVM is the maximum weight of a fully loaded vehicle.

          So if the camper is 3550kgs dry, then this vehicle can legally carry 960 kgs of people, fuel, water, luggage, modifications (like bull bars and appliances) and ball weight (the weight of any trailer on a vehicle is included in the GVM). Basically on a weight bridge this vehicle can't weight more than 4,490kgs as that is what it is rated for.

          For registration, the vehicle should be weight bridged after conversion anyway. A good motorhome dealer should go over weights as part of the sales process and explain in detail weight restrictions on pick up.

          Further, with the right class C vehicle you can tow up to 9 tons in most states. Many LR and MR trucks are sold with derated GVM from 8 tons (LR) or 8+ tons (MR) to 4.5 tons, but keep their CVM (combined vehicle mass) rating to tow up to 9 tons (some states have further restrictions based on the weight of the tow vehicle). You would still need to have a suitable, rated tow system installed.

          Luckily for everybody, GVM derated trucks are too unrefined and not marketed for use as a motorhomes or caravan tow vehicles.

          • +1 vote

            @This Guy: Yeah, good information. I drive HR trucks for work and always super aware of what we are loading onto them.

            I've never driven a camper/motorhome or had anything too do with them but we have some similar C class vehicles at work we use for freight. They are not as well decked out as some of these motorhomes, but they are still heavy enough that we can only put about 2000kg on them. And these are tray back Isuzu trucks. These motorhomes have massive backs on them full of equipment, I was just keen to know just how much they weighed.

            But thanks for the info. Excellent explanation for people who might not know how GVM works in vehicle licence classes.

    •  

      Come back through Berowra Waters to Berowra.

      You get to travel ~200m in a ferry.

    • +1 vote

      Have you been living under a rock?
      Putty road is also quite fun.

      • +1 vote

        I live at the end of the Putty road, so I’ve driven/ridden that one more times than I’ve had hot breakfasts.

        I’ve done the old pacific highway run to Sydney more times than I care to remember, but I always rejoin the highway at Hawkesbury or only go through to Berowra.

        Guess I’ve been living under a rock… *sad_face_emoji.bmp*

    • +1 vote

      Road is fun oncoming clowns are not

  • +4 votes

    The points to be discussed will definitely include the light vehicle status of the campervan

    Your turning circle is that of a vehicle that has problems with getting stuck and/or being dangerous.

    and the calibration of the radar gun used to measure the length of the vehicle.

    I wouldn't go there. It takes the reviewer 2 seconds to Google the length of your vehicle and lose any leniency.

    • +1 vote

      Your turning circle is that of a vehicle that has problems with getting stuck and/or being dangerous.

      While true, the law, as far as I've been able to find, only restricts heavy vehicles over 7.5m. My quest to find actual legislation is ongoing.

      I wouldn't go there.

      Indeed, it's a stupid gambit. They'll come back with a traceable calibration certificate (yes, of course they have one, you're not the only one to have tried it), the measurements you found, and a furious rage.

  • +3 votes

    The warning signs clearly shows a (car dragging a) caravan, and you claiming you knew your motor home was 7.7m (0.2m longer than the signposted) isn't going to help your case.

  • +3 votes

    You didn't include a MS Paint picture.

  • +2 votes

    You'll need to check your actual registration documentation to determine whether or not it's a heavy vehicle - RMS should be able to tell you the registered GVM rating and whether it's 'NB1' category (light vehicle under 4500kg GVM) or 'NB2' (heavy vehicle 4500kg or over). If they've got you recorded as a heavy vehicle that's probably where the issue lies.

    The vehicle is actually supposed to be whatever the compliance plates (with the VIN, seating capacity etc) say, but the registration is what matters for this.

    Also worth noting that the 7.7m spec probably won't include things like bullbar, towbar, bike rack, spare tyres on the back etc.

  • +4 votes

    calibration of the radar gun

    I mean it seems like it was calibrated correctly if the total length of the vehicle was over 7.5m

  • +1 vote

    It's incumbent for the operator of a large vehicle to know its dimensions and weight. There is ample and conspicuous signage prior to entering the gorge but the operator "was convinced the van would make it". This is what all the truck drivers thought prior to getting stuck in the gorge and why this rule is in place. In my opinion she deserves the fine - there have been too many trucks and long vehicles getting stuck in the gorge which cost the taxpayer to remove them and cause significant delays to those who use the gorge on a daily basis. Next time she'll be know to be aware of her vehicle's dimensions and ensure that she pays attention to road signage.

  •  

    May I suggest "The Chewbacca Defence?"

  • +1 vote

    and was seemingly unaware of the new camera at Montview Parade in Hornsby Heights

    That is the problem right there.
    Road sign awareness is essential, especially when driving a big rig down a steep gorge.
    I suppose on the bright side, even though she lost her licence, at least she didn't cop double demerits

  •  

    need to be married to a police commissioner to get ticket cancelled

    https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/police-...

  • -1 vote

    I’d contest it in the hopes of being left with a golden point, unless you can argue that the warning signs weren’t sufficient on the day l, it’s just plain ignorance of the road rules, the very reason that camera was placed there.

    • +3 votes

      If you miss the signs at Galston, you should be on the disability pension and barred from driving because you're functionally blind.

      • -2 votes

        Haven’t driven the road myself but people make mistakes, this fortunately didn’t cause any harm or inconvenience, I’d be lenient if their prior driving history was relatively spotless.

        People definitely pay attention when driving on the golden point.

        • +4 votes

          There's a series of multiple large signs in the lead up to Galston Gorge, from kilometres away. As you get close, there are flashing lights and electronic signs that activate if the system measures your vehicle as over length. There are places to turn around.

          example signage: https://images.app.goo.gl/obD8e7vi99tEHjaDA

          I can understand people who miss a speed limit sign, or their exit from the freeway, but if you miss all of these warnings I maintain you're not fit to drive. (I might accept a "I don't understand English" defence, but I think "7.5m" is near universally understood)

          I would agree with leniency in this case though - it's a one off mistake in an unfamiliar vehicle that didn't get stuck, not a professional driver trying to cut corners (literally). I just don't think "insufficient signage" is at all applicable :)

        •  

          The road is a very narrow and tight road with multiple warning signs. You have to be blind not to realise it says do not take long vehicles down the Gorge.

  •  

    Did she willingly take the route knowing she was close to/over the limit?

    I imagine some mercy would be taken if she claimed that she wasn't even switched on to that kind of road warning. Although your write up kind of suggests she was.

    I definetly wouldn't mention the fact that the alternate route was a long one.

    Probably wouldn't argue the calibration either.

  •  

    even John Laws before Ray Hadley have been reporting these ignorant drivers attempting to drive their over sized vehicles through the gorge,if I had any say into the problem these people cause, I would cancel their licence and would be sending them back to learners school and concentrate on their ability to read and understand what the signs mean,then if they pass the test place them on the lowest p plate for at least 6 months then retest to see if they had learnt any thing,as far as contacting Ray I doubt if you would get any sympathy from him.

  • +4 votes

    7.7 > 7.5

  • +1 vote

    Just take the front and/or* rear bumper off to reduce your length to 7.4999m, and then have proof that it's shorter.

    • Find out what angle the camera was taken, and shave off unseen side.
  • +4 votes

    I wish you all the best in getting the fine revoked, but I'd probably not specify anywhere in the letter that it's "a massive hassle" to take a longer route.

  • +6 votes

    I hate morons who go down the gorge and can't drive. And also you lied about the vehicle getting stuck, if the vehicle is 7.7 meters you would have to be occupying two lanes to take any turn and it would have had traffic backed up on both sides of the road. Take the fine and stick it to your mums forehead. Don't drive down there again.

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