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Thursday, September 24, 2015

AUSTRALIA - Court to hear legal challenge to Victoria Police fines for motorcycle helmet cameras

WA Police officer fitted with helmet camera as part of a blitz on texting drivers


A Melbourne motorcyclist is going to court to contest a fine for wearing a camera on his helmet in a case lawyers hope will stop police from issuing similar penalties.
Max Lichtenbaum was fined $289 and lost three demerit points for failing to wear an approved helmet after being pulled over by police in Frankston, in Melbourne's south-east, in March 2014.
That fine will be contested in court today on the grounds the helmet was of approved Australian standard and was in fact compliant with the law despite having a camera attached.
The prosecution argued the camera was a rigid projection of more than five millimetres, which is against standard, but Mr Lichtenbaum's legal team said that only applied to the manufacture and sale of the helmet.
Mr Lichtenbaum's lawyer, Malcolm Cumming of Maurice Blackburn, said his firm took the case on pro bono after the issue was repeatedly raised by motorcyclists.
"Over the years many motorcyclists have been issued with infringements and have paid fines and have lost demerit points for using helmet cameras based on the premise that there is an ongoing system of regulation of helmets beyond point of supply," Mr Cumming said.
"Our argument is that there is no such system of regulation at all and all those infringements have been paid in error."
Video from helmet cameras is some of the best evidence you can have if you are in a collision.
Malcolm Cumming, Lawyer
GoPro cameras are becoming increasingly popular with motorcyclists who use them like a dashboard camera.
Mr Cumming said it was an important safety tool which should be allowed.
"The repeated feedback from motorcyclists to us is there's a marked change and improvement in driver behaviour when drivers become aware that they are, or are potentially, being recorded," he said.
"In our work supporting riders injured in road accidents, we know that video from helmet cameras is some of the best evidence you can have if you are in a collision."
Mr Cumming said he would also argue the Australian Standard that governs motorcycle helmets is not freely accessible to the public, and riders could not be found guilty of breaching a law that is not publically available.

National standard applied differently across states

Victoria is one of the only states in which motorcyclists are fined for wearing cameras in breach of the Australian Standard.
Deputy chairman of the Victorian Motorcycle Council Peter Baulch said police in Western Australia and Queensland were issued with motorcycle helmets with cameras attached to record intercepts.
"It seems a little bit odd when we talk about compliance with an Australian Standard that it's ok in Queensland and Western Australia but not ok in Victoria," he said.
"Because we're talking about a national standard not a state one.
"So there's something a little cock-eyed about that."
Victoria Police has declined to comment.