When a word has two meanings…
We just spent two weeks on holiday which I will write about over the coming days. In short it was an eventful and sometimes exciting holiday with several firsts for all of us. It was indeed a “fine” holiday. Then, on the drive back to Sydney, more ‘firsts’. I was stopped by the police and received a speeding “fine”.
Incidentally, the main reason I never wrote daily updates on this blog while we were away is that there was never any wifi up to the job. It was either very poor or non-existent. Plus I thought, what the heck! I am on holiday too… More on all this later of course.
I could kick myself for being too honest. The police officer was female and looked about my age – certainly not much younger. She was very polite and I knew there was a short distance that I was definitely speeding. Of all the bad luck…
But when she saw my UK driving licence the first thing she asked was “How long are you in Australia for?”. “About a year” I replied. Then naturally, she asked if I had an address in Australia, which I duly told her.
I have to say that she was very pleasant. Much nicer than the horrible police in the UK who treat drivers as if they are some kind of mass murderers. That must come from their complete inability to catch real criminals. But (as usual) I digress….
First time Breathalyser
She then gave me a breath test – which I can only assume is standard procedure when they stop someone on the main road for speeding. This was the first time I had ever been asked to do the breathalyser test and I feel a little ripped off. There wasn’t even anything to blow into! She held the device up to my face and told me to count aloud to ten. I must have looked very confused because I repeated it back as a question; “count to ten?”. She grinned and nodded.
“One, two, three…” Beep beep beep went the machine. What? Already? I hadn’t even reached the count of FOUR! Did it think I had been drinking? Actually the night before I had drunk half a bottle of wine. Was it registering still? Anyway, she smiled and went back to her car.
After a long wait she returned with a piece of paper. She explained that I had to pay a fine of $285 (odd number eh?). I never really took everything in as I was still a bit shocked that I had been so unlucky to get caught out. I just wanted to get back to driving home. It was all detailed on the back of the penalty notice – I got that part.
What I could/should have done?
It was only a bit later that I realised I could have just said that we were driving to Sydney and would be flying back to Europe in a day or two. What would she have done then? Would she have asked me if I had $285 in cash on me to pay there and then? An ‘on the spot fine’ so to speak?
If I said “no” to that question would she have produced a card reader and asked for a credit card? I am convinced they just want to make a little money out of an upstanding honest speeding driver.
The point is I was honest and I got hit with a fine. The usual thing would be a fine and (probably) points deducted/added from/to * the driving licence (* depending on which country you are in). I believe they cannot enforce the points thing on a passing tourist. Also they would not have a local address to follow up if the fine is not paid. So I may have been able to drive away with just a warning (of sorts).
At the end of the day it was a lesson learnt. I may try that ‘tourist’ tactic if (when) it happens again. I can ‘dispute’ the fine and I intend to at least try. Why not? What do I have to lose? Well, $285 to be exact. You can be sure I will post the result of my ‘dispute’ right here…