Offence to Obstruct Person Operating Road Safety Camera or Speed Detector

– section 73A of Road Safety Act 1986
Operating Road Safety Camera
This charge is generally laid in situations where a person obstructs, hinders, threatens, abuses or intimidates a person who is operating a road safety camera or a speed detector.
Examples of Offence to Obstruct Person Operating Road Safety Camera or Speed Detector
  • You are driving your car and notice a policeman operating a speed detector on the side of the road. You are nervous that they caught you speeding, so you yell at them through your window, telling them that they better ‘watch out’.
Questions in cases like this
  • Was the victim operating a road safety camera or a speed detector at the time of the offence?
  • Was your behaviour towards them threatening or intimidating?
  • Did you hinder or obstruct them in some way?
What are some of the possible defences to Offence to Obstruct Person Operating Road Safety Camera or Speed Detector?

This charge may be defended in court through a factual dispute, the concept of beyond reasonable doubt, or because of the charge being statute barred.

You should ring us and discuss your case if you have been charged. Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has huge consequences for you and should be made after proper discussion with a criminal lawyer.

Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge

FineThe offence to obstruct etc a person operating road safety camera or speed detector has a maximum penalty of 60 penalty units (nearly $10,000). It is the sort of charge regularly heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

What is the legal definition of Offence to Obstruct Person Operating Road Safety Camera or Speed Detector?

This offence arises when a person obstructs, hinders, threatens, abuses or intimidates a person who is operating a road safety camera or a speed detector.

Legislation

The legislation for this offence can be found on section 73A of Road Safety Act 1986.

Elements of the offence

The prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The person was operating a road safety camera or a speed detector
  2. When the person was operating the road safety camera or speed detector, the accused either: Obstructed the person, or
  3. Hindered the person, or
  4. Threatened the person, or
  5. Abused the person, or
  6. Intimidated the person

1) Was the person operating a road safety camera or a speed detector at the time?
A “road safety camera” means a system consisting of a camera and associated equipment that is used or intended to be used for the purpose of detecting the commission of offences against the Road Safety Act 1986.

A “speed detector” means a device that is used or intended to be used for the purpose of detecting the commission of offences against the Road Safety Act 1986.

A person will only be ‘operating’ a road safety camera and a speed detector if they are using it correctly – i.e. to detect the commission of offences under the Act. For instance, they wouldn’t be ‘operating’ the equipment if they were using for their own amusement.

The offence can only be committed whilst the person is operating the equipment. For instance, you won’t be committing an offence under this section if you threaten the person a week after they were operating a road safety camera (although you may be charged with a different offence).

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2) Did you obstruct the person operating the road safety camera or speed detector?
‘Obstruct’ means preventing the person from operating the road safety camera or speed detector. For instance, you might walk up to the person and take the equipment from them and run away. This would be ‘obstructing’ them.

3) Did you hinder the person operating the road safety camera or speed detector?
‘Hinder’ has a similar meaning to obstruct. Did you make it difficult for the person to operate the equipment? For example, you might tamper with the equipment when they are not looking.

4) Did you threaten the person operating the road safety camera or speed detector?
There is a great deal of case law dealing with ‘threats’ in other criminal law contexts. A threat can be made through words or conduct1, and a course of conduct can amount to a threat2. For instance, you may drive past a person operating a speed detector and silently make a gesture which signifies slitting their throat. This would amount to a threat.

“Can they prove you threatened the person?”

5) Did you abuse the person operating the road safety camera or speed detector?
This will usually be a more aggravated version of the offence. You may abuse the person operating the equipment by physically hurting them or using abusive language.

6) Did you intimidate the person?
Similarly, you may intimidate a person operating the equipment by using language or gestures designed to frighten them.

Overall, whether you have obstructed, hindered, threatened, abused or intimidated someone operating a road safety camera or a speed detector will depend on all the surrounding circumstances. You should seek criminal law advice if you have been charged with this offence.



[1] R v Rich Vic CA 17/12/1997
[2] R v Rich CA Vic 17/12/1997