RMS concedes it was too quick to fine drivers
QUEENSLAND drivers can now avoid an automatic $1392 fine and four demerit points for a damaged or illegible numberplate in NSW, thanks to action by the Queensland Transport Association.
Here is the QTA's full statement explaining exactly how it was able get a win for its members:
Queensland registered heavy vehicles when detected by NSW Safe-T-Cam with number plates not displayed in the correct manner as per Transport Operations (Road Use Management-Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2010, will receive a NSW penalty infringement notice (PIN) for Use of an Unregistered Registrable Class C motor vehicle on road. A PIN will be sent from NSW Revenue to the person in charge of the vehicle (the driver), and a separate PIN to the registered owner.
That's right - NSW Revenue will issue a PIN for an unregistered vehicle - not a defect notice or a warning letter about a damaged or illegible numberplate, but a $1392 fine including 4 demerit points for the driver and $692 for the owner for use of an unregistered vehicle on the road in NSW.
In a PIN review request, RMS replied that "Under the Road Transport Act 2013, a vehicle is exempt of NSW registration requirements while the vehicle displays all numberplates in the manner required by the registering jurisdiction. NSWRMS references the Queensland Transport Operations (Road Use Management-Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2010.
After consulting with Qld Department of Transport and Main Roads, TMR confirmed that the NSW Law determines that an interstate registered vehicle IS considered unregistered in NSW if the vehicle does not comply to the Registration regulations of the state in which it is registered.
Therefore a Qld registered vehicle is considered to be an unregistered vehicle in NSW if it does not comply with the Registration requirements under Transport Operations (Road Use Management-Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2010. Included in the TORUM Registration requirements is compliance to the position, visibility and legibility of number plates.
A Registered operator of a vehicle must ensure that each number plate issued for a vehicle is permanently attached to the vehicle so that, if the vehicle is on level ground the number plate is:
- in an upright position parallel to the vehicle's axles; and
- not more than 1.3m above ground level
- the characters on the number plate are visible from 20m away at any point within an arc of 45º from the surface of the number plate above or to either side of the vehicle, and any cover on the number plate is clear, clean, untinted and flat over its entire surface and has no reflective or other characteristics.
The number plate must be in the correct position, and in a legible condition (not faded, damaged or dirty) to ensure the successful operation of a photographic detection device.
So yes - if a truck has a damaged or illegible number plate in NSW and Safe-T-Cam cannot clearly identify the vehicle, then the owner and the driver will receive a PIN from NSW RMS.
However - on further QTA investigation and with the assistance of TMR (Registration), it was identified that NSW RMS had not taken into account other sections of the Qld Law in which QLD registered owners have 14 days to rectify damaged or illegible number plates.
In Queensland - if a vehicle is detected with a damaged, dirty or illegible number plate, a written notice (defect notice) could be given to the driver or registered operator to replace the number plate or clean/fix and then take to TMR for inspection in the timeframe given on the notice - usually 14 days.
When further discussions were held, NSW RMS conceded they had not taken into consideration the 14 days provided in Qld Law for rectification of plate defects.
TMR advised QTA that NSWRMS will take this into account and will amend their process to allow a 14 day rectification period.
Which means if plates aren't fixed / replaced within that time frame, they intend on applying the penalty. And the 14 day timeframe commences from camera/offence detection (date of offence) not the date operator or driver receives the notice!!
Advice received from TMR on What to do if your company or your driver has received a PIN.
If you have received a Safe-T-Cam PIN for Use of an Unregistered Registrable Class C motor vehicle on road because of a damaged or illegible number plate in NSW, RMS Enforcement will consider representations from any operator/driver in which they are able to provide evidence that they have taken action to replace or fix the issue (e.g. damaged plates) within 14 days of the offence occurring.
Operators/drivers will need to provide evidence that the number plate was fixed/repaired/replaced within 14 days of the date the camera detected the first offence.
Examples of evidence could be:
- Copy of Drivers Work Diary pages to provide evidence they had travelled in same truck on same route within the 14 days after the offence date and the number plate had been repaired or replaced.
- Any GPS data or journey evidence that the truck travelled on same journey within the 14 day period after the initial offence and had not received any further PINs due to number plate issue having been rectified.
Evidence and representations are to be forwarded to Enforcement.Review@rms.nsw.gov.au and marked for escalation. NSW have requested that any, and all documentation that is relevant to the PIN must be provided at that time.
Alternatively, as per the standard process, representations may be made to Revenue NSW, which is detailed on the back of the penalty notice:
If you wish to seek leniency based on certain circumstances or if you believe an error has been made, and a review has not already been conducted, a request for review must be sent to Revenue NSW by the due date on the first penalty reminder notice. You can request a review of your penalty or obtain further details about the review process at www.revenue.nsw.gov.au/fines/pn/review.
If you are not satisfied with the initial response from Revenue NSW you can escalate the matter by emailing Enforcement.Review@rms.nsw.gov.au and a further review may be undertaken by a Senior Manager of Roads and Maritime.
The request for escalation must occur immediately when you receive your response or Revenue NSW will continue to process the PIN in the usual manner, which "may result in action being taken against the driver/operator by Revenue NSW. This may involve additional cost to you, loss or suspension of your licence or vehicle registration and restrictions on doing business with Australian Traffic Authorities.”
Operators will need to send an urgent email to Enforcement.Review@rms.nsw.gov.au with the request to escalate the matter, along with the evidence the numberplate issue was rectified within the 14 day timeframe.
At a time where industry and government are looking at harmonisation and national consistency in the interest of safety and efficiency, the question needs to be raised as to why a damaged number plate in one state is issued a defect notice with the opportunity to fix within 14 days, yet in another state, a driver will be sent a $1392 fine with 4 demerit points for using an unregistered vehicle on the road, when clearly the vehicle IS legitimately registered? And why 4 demerit points?
The QTA will continue to pursue this inconsistency and is currently working with members who have been issued with Unregistered vehicle Penalty Infringement Notices from NSW Revenue.