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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 2082 ..

Alleged Drink-Driving Incident

MR BERRY (6.12): Mr Speaker, I want to talk about an incident which occurred in the ACT last New Year's Eve. There is some humour in this incident, but there is also a side to it which, I think, could be regarded as serious because circumstances developed which might not have developed had there been some sort of safety valve in the course of it. A member of the public came to me and complained that on New Year's Eve he and his partner were watching the cars from Summernats around the streets of Canberra. They were driving a left-hand-drive American motor car.

They were parked in Braddon and his partner, who was sitting in what would normally be the driver's side of the car, was consuming some alcohol. She left the car and was enjoying the passing parade of motor cars - bear in mind that these people are car enthusiasts - not knowing that there were police in a video surveillance van watching as she consumed more alcohol, having a great evening and enjoying herself. Subsequently, the woman re-entered the car on the driver's side of the vehicle and the car moved off.

The police assumed that the woman was under the influence of alcohol, followed the car and pulled it over. Subsequently, there were two motorcycle police involved, a random breath test car, an inspector from the motor registry and the two policemen who were in the video surveillance van in the first place. I do not mean this to be a criticism of the police. I just wish that there had been a safety valve somewhere that could have stopped all of the nonsense going on after it.

The car was pulled over after being pursued by motorcycle police who drove up beside what was the driver's side of the car and yelled at the passenger, through the window, to pull over. The car was a long American car, quite large, and it was difficult to find a spot in busy Northbourne Avenue to pull over and the driver was trying to navigate it into a safe position. The motorcycle constable apparently became a little frustrated with the time it was taking, again drove up to what is the driver's side of the car in normal vehicles and yelled at the passenger, through the window, to pull over and the car pulled over. Of course, the police were getting frustrated by all of this. They were then, according to an internal investigation, flummoxed by the driver alighting from the left-hand side of the car. They had already called the random breath test vehicle. The driver was tested and, of course, had not been drinking. I think he became a little upset at the goings-on, as one would, and one thing led to another.

The traffic inspector went over the car with a fine toothcomb to find something wrong with it and discovered that the driver had replicated the ACT numberplates in a way so that they would fit this car; but technically, if I can use that term, they were unlawful. At this point, a defect notice for about $67 was issued, which means that you have to have an inspection for $30. The driver became upset at this and refused to pay, it ended up in the courts and the courts eventually dismissed the whole matter.

Mr Wood: Properly so.

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