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Speed Camera Law in Victoria


Mobile Speed Cameras

Mobile speed cameras are usually mounted in cars which are parked on the side of the road. A radar beam is directed at an angle across the line of traffic to detect the speed of vehicles passing in either direction. If it detects a vehicle travelling over the threshold speed, the device will take a photograph of the offending vehicle. The registered owner of the vehicle will then receive a traffic infringement in the mail. The owner has the option of paying the fine, objecting to the fine, nominating a driver or explaining that the driver is unable to be nominated.

Because mobile speed cameras operate on radar, they are prone to the many of the typcial problems that hand-held radar devices suffer. If another vehicle is in the picture, it is possible that the other vehicle may have interfered with the radar reading. Same applies for large reflective objects such as metal signs or large metal objects like trucks.

The Government of Victoria has published a simplistic document called How mobile speed cameras work


Fixed Speed Cameras

Fixed speed cameras are mounted on poles, bridges or other structures by the roadway. Most fixed speed cameras operate using piezo strips which are imbedded in the roadway. The strips of chrystaline material react to the pressure of the passing vehicle and measure the time it takes for a vehicle to pass between two points on the road surface. If the vehicle's speed exceeds the threshold, a photo is taken of the offending vehicle.

Piezo strips are able to determine which lane the offending vehicle is travelling in, so the fact that other vehicles are on the road or in the photo is not usually a problem for the prosecution.

See also: How do fixed speed cameras work.



If your licence is at risk, then it is usually worthwhile to take the case the court because it is always possible to avoid licence loss if the case is properly handled.

In many situations it is not easy to defend speed camera cases. Sometimes expert evidence is relied upon to cast doubt on the accuracy of the speed reading. In almost every case it is not necessary for drivers to prove what speed they were travelling at. The police have the obligation of proving the case against the defendant. Many cases are won because the police fail to achieve that. If you are wondering if it is worthwhile taking your fine to court, you will find the answer by asking yourself if you can afford not to take it to court. Unless you can get around happily without driving a motor vehicle, then generally you will need to take the matter to court to achieve a better outcome.


Mobile Speed Camera Set-up Guidelines. 

Paragraph 2.2.1 of the Mobile Cameras Policy Manual states:

To maintain community confidence in the speed camera initiative, it is important for the operational use of the devices to be seen as fair and reasonable.  Under no circumstances are speed camera vehicles, tripods or flash units to be disguised by signs, logos, breakdown of vehicle (eg. boot open or spare wheel / jack visible etc), tree branches, lamp posts, dust bins or any other means that would generate public perceptions of sly operations.

I am sometimes asked if a breach of the guidelines or Standard Operating Procedures will afford a good defence to a speed camera charge.  The short answer is that it will not. Bonnet open.
When prosecuting a speed camera charge, the police must prove that it has been operated according to law. The relevent law is regulations 34 and 40 of the
Road Safety (General) Regulations 2009.  The only provisions that touch on the issue of compliance with guidelines is r. 34(a) and 40(a) which state that certain speed cameras  must be used in accordance with operating instructions approved by a testing officer.

The testing officer's operating instructions for the Gatsometer MRC System mobile speed camera can be downloaded here.

The law says the testing officer's operating instructions must be complied with. However, the operating instructions do not adopt, refer to or incorporate any of the matters mentioned in paragraph 2.2.1 of the Mobile Cameras Policy Manual. 

The operating instructions relate to matters concerning accuracy of the device and correct data collection. They do not relate to the fairness of its operation.

There is no law which requires the police to comply with paragraph 2.2.1 of the Policy Manual. When the police prosecute a person for a speed camera offence, they do not need to adduce any evidence in court that paragraph 2.2.1 or any other paragraph of the Policy Manual has been complied with. The policy manual is never tendered in evidence by the prosecution. Compliance with it is irrelevant to proof of the offence. Because the prosecution does not need to prove the operator complied with the policy manual then it can not help the defendant to allege that the policy manual has not been complied with.

Even if a defendant satisfies a court that paragraph 2.2.1 has not been complied with, this does not prevent the police from proving the speeding offence occurred. The driver would need to go further and show that non-compliance with the Policy Manual or any owners' manual or operators' manual might have caused the speed measurement reading to be incorrect. See Ozbinay v. Crowley (1993) 17 MVR 176, a decision of the Supreme Court of Victoria, where the court held that non-compliance with the manufacturer's operators' manual was not a ground for dismissing charges unless there was further evidence to show that the non-compliance caused or resulted in an erroneous reading for this particular defendant.  In speeding cases defendants may adduce evidence to show that there is reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of the speed measurement, but they will most likely be wasting their time if they rely solely on the police failure to comply with the policy manual without linking that failure to a possible error in the measurement.

If your vehicle was photographed at a time when you believe guideline 2.2.1 was not being complied with, you might decide to complain to the Traffic Camera Office and see if it will withdraw the fine. The T.C.O. probably won't help you because the camera operator is unlikely to agree that they operated the camera in breach of para 2.2.1, and the TCO never withdraws a fine if there is a dispute about the facts of the case.

Don't be too disheartened though. There are often other ways to win a speed camera case.


Related Pages:
Speeding fines
Speed camera locations Speed Camera Operators' Manuals
Demerit Points
Mandatory Sentencing




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