Driver forced to pay $387 after roadside camera snaps her holding sunglasses case

Despite her best efforts, the Sydney woman admits she is 'disappointed' her fine was not revoked by defiant transport authorities.

One woman's experience shows why there is concern about new roadside camera technology making expensive mistakes. Source: Supplied
One woman's experience shows why there is concern about new roadside camera technology making expensive mistakes. Source: Supplied

A woman has copped a $387 fine and five demerit points for a driving offence she claims she didn't commit, slamming the appeal process as she starts a payment instalment plan to pay off the infringement. And her experience shows why some Aussies are raising questions about the proliferation of new roadside cameras monitoring motorists.

Ms Lee, who asked Yahoo News to refrain from using her first name, was driving back home to Sydney from Melbourne on January 9 when a phone detection camera snapped a shot of her along the Hume Highway near Sutton Forest. A square item was pictured on her lap but she claims it's her sunglasses case — not her phone.

"It was in the evening so I removed my sunglasses, that's what I was doing. It looks like my sunglasses cover," she told Yahoo News. "I've got Android Auto, there's no need to touch my phone, I can give voice commands [in my car]."

Lee admits she wasn't massively concerned when she received the infringement in the post a week later, believing she could gather evidence and submit an appeal review to prove her innocence. However, it was ultimately rejected.

In a letter seen by Yahoo News, Revenue NSW responded to Lee's appeal and said, "We have reviewed the images and are satisfied the fine was issued correctly... a driver in a vehicle that is not parked cannot hold a phone in their hand or against their body."

As part of her appeal, she sent in a photo, which she said reenacted the scene, more clearly showing her sunglasses case. However authorities were unmoved.

Yahoo News Australia has sought further comment from Transport for NSW and Revenue NSW.

The woman shows what her sunglasses case looks like on her left left (left) and the infringement image (right).
The woman claims her sunglasses case was mistaken for a phone by the roadside camera. Source: Supplied

After being made redundant the month prior, Lee had no other choice but to enter into a payment instalment plan to pay back the infringement.

"Why bother having a review process if they're not going to do anything about it?" she said. "It's just really disappointing, they say you can apply for a review then do nothing. It's a big sum of money coming at a time when everyone's struggling financially."

New camera technology will be implemented from July 1 in NSW and some are concerned over their effectiveness to correctly detect an offence, given a number of mistakes have been previously made.

Sydney motorist Andy Man told Yahoo News last week he doesn't trust that the cameras are 100 per cent accurate, especially when it comes to phone detection.

"There's been plenty of people I know who were mistaken for holding other objects such as wallets, cigarette cases and other objects that were not mobile phones and sadly got punished for holding a mobile phone whilst driving," he said.

In May a Sydney driver was wrongly fined $387 and 10 demerit points for handling his wallet while behind the wheel, while another driver last year was fined $362 for holding a children's toy.

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