Thursday, January 27, 2011

I am a criminal...

We were having a really lovely Australia Day. Dan got up super early and did a lazy 60km's on his bike before breakfast (as you do) and even I made it to the gym for a Spin class. Sated, I was feeling great as we packed the picnic basket and  made our way to a friend's rural property for a lazy bbq lunch and swim in the pool.

The day slipped away and poor Elli was seriously overdue for a sleep (he wasn't too excited about being locked away in the porta-cot set up in our friend's living room) so we decided to drive home in a leisurely fashion. Turning whimsically up this laneway and that, we dreamed of buying our own rural property some day. You know, when we become millionaires.

A few kilometres from home a guy on a dirtbike pulled out in front of us, narrowly missing both us and a couple of girls walking on the pathway adjacent to the road. No helmet. No license plates. He darted across the wrong side of the road and disappeared up a sidestreet, cloud of smoke billowing behind him.

We were wondering where the police were when suddenly we saw one! We kept driving, hoping the guy would be caught when suddenly the sirens were behind us and we were being herded into the median strip! We weren't speeding, so we thought it must just be a random breath test.  

A policeman sidled up to the drivers door and peered in. Dan and I were in the front wrapped in towels, the kids were in the back wearing nothing but nappies (it was 35 degrees!) and we were listening to 'Old McDonald Had a Farm' on the CD player.

We were being video camera'd, the policeman said. Anything we said would be recorded and could be used against us. Had we been drinking? "Um, no". Was our car registered? "Yes, of course!" The policeman smirked and went around to the sticker on the windscreen. I squinted through the backside of the sticker and read the date.

January 18, 2011.


Could the policeman see Dan's license, please?

Well, he could...... if only it were in the car, and not in Dan's wallet somewhere at home. Could this scenario get any worse?

Happy Australia Day.

The policeman disappeared back to his car for about 3 hours. Dan and I silently panicked, wondering how we were going to get home and what was going to happen to us. Elliott was sound asleep, and Fern was blissfully oblivious, singing along to "8 green bottles" in the back.

The policeman came back. His tone was slightly more pleasant, clearly he'd done all the checks and concluded we were only mild vagrants; our car is only 2 years old and doesn't need a greenslip inspection and both Dan and my driving (and criminal!) records are pretty impeccable. In a slightly apologetic tone, he explained he shouldn't let us drive home but was going to turn a blind eye, that he could charge us $1500 but out of the goodness of his heart was just slapping us with a $550 fine for the unregistered vehicle.

Just $550. Right.

In fairness, he was right. The vehicle WAS unregistered. By 8 days. In an honest and legitimate mistake, on my part. I'd seen the insurance paperwork which said January 30, and I stupidly thought that was the rego date, too. Clearly not. I explained this to him, but I might as well have been talking in Arabic.

And so, the Police Department will be almost $600 richer because of the obvious threat to Australian society that Dan and Nicole were driving a car 8 days out of rego. And the guy that almost swiped 2 pedestrians off the pathway on his dirt bike was by now miles away...

Does this seem fair and right to you? It seems sort of poignant to me that this incident occurred on Australia Day. That this policeman was being paid double-time-and-a-half of tax payers money to literally drive around looking for revenue-generating crimes to convict people with. Yes, we were breaking the law. But were we a threat to society? Maiming anyone or anything? Was the half hour this policeman spent berating us the very best use of our law enforcement's time while there is so much violence and crime going on around us??

I'd love your thoughts on this...


  1. Oh NO! That totally sucks! And it just makes it so annoying that you saw the idiot on the bike just before.
    But you know what, Glen was pulled up the other day as the cops thought that he wasn't rego'd. Apparently they've got this number plate detecting software in their car that puts your number plate through the system and lets the cops know if you're not registered! Glen was pulled over for not being registered, even though he was and his new sticker was on and everything... but then he told the cops that he paid the rego and changed the sticker like 5 days eariler and then they had to phone the RTA to double check and confirmed that their fancy pants software was not up to date. So yeah, that's probably what happened to you guys but I am upset about it, esp after hearing your story as it's complete revenue raising and as you say they spend all this time assessing rego stuff (with a system that doesn't even have real-time updating) and they could be out catching people that are actually breaking the law! Jxx

  2. I can speak from the other side of the fence on this one - as annoying as it is, and i know, this has actually happened to me before! (i was 5 days over & had completely forgotten!) My boyfriend of 7 years is a nsw policeman & i can tell you they definitely dont have quotas to fill, even on public holidays. Also they do get paid overtime, just like anyone else would on a public holiday. Before i was with my man, i didnt think that to much about what police did - its a bloody tough job & they see some absolutely horrible things that stay with them for a long time, and spend the majoity of their time protecting us, the non-criminals ;) - from seeing or knowing about these things, and risking their lives to do so. A friend of ours was killed on duty this year. Unfortunately the only time most of us normal, nice people come across the cops is when we have slipped up & get a fine leaving us feeling annoyed! Hope that didnt sound like a rant! Just know what its like on the other side of the fence - these guys are just doing their job which unfortunately usually results in people having the shits at them ;) Totally sucks about the fine - and dont worry, my 'contact' didnt help me get out of mine lol

  3. Sal R-J I totally hear your point, and I do not mean to undermine the great work that the police dept do. I have no doubt they see some awful things in their line of work and I couldnt do what they do. And the guy really was quite nice, considering........ My post is just a little gripe about my own experience. x

  4. Oh, that would have been a dampner on my day too. Especially because your day had seemed so nice up until then. I'm so sorry for the fine, but it could have been worse. And even worse than that, if you had an accident (your fault or not) with an unregistered vehicle you could have winded up uninsured too. And that includes health insurance. So, be glad that you're all safe and healthy and count your blessings. And it's a shame the policeman didn't see the road biker. But as one cop said to me when I was getting a speeding ticket why he didn't pick up the guy who overtook me "You can catch all the fish in the ocean". Pooey! (Oh, and get your car registered!!!) Hugs to you. xx

  5. It's a total bummer, but what can you do? File it under "X" for experience and try not to think about what you COULD have done with that $600!

    Can you tell I have been there before? :)

  6. It's always like that on public holidays. As you know I only take xmas off and my work has me on the road all day, all year. Each adn every public holiday there is a mass influx of police with their cameras. This Australia day I went past no less then 4...and am proud to say I wasn't speeding at all :-)

  7. How incredibly frustrating!!! Yes, yes you were breaking the law - but really!? that was the most important thing happening that day! The town I live in gives massive fines for going just 2-3 miles over the speed limit. Again - yes - you're breaking the law, but come on!!

  8. Jobsworth on a power trip. Loser. His wife's probably just left him and his kids don't like him. Your life is hsppy and damn it, you might be shy of a few bucks but you are better people and happier. x

    That's what i like to think anyway!


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