Woman claims she was fined for scratching her face
A Sydney mother said her perfect driving record could be ruined by a mobile phone fine based on a photograph she claims shows nothing.
Steff Doney, 37, was snapped by one of New South Wales’ new portable cameras and fined – even after the image was reviewed.
“I’ve been on the road for 20 years and I’ve never lost a point and now it’s going to take me 10 years to get that clean record back so I’m pretty disappointed,” Ms Doney told A Current Affair.
“I’m astonished they would say she’s clearly holding a phone, because I can’t see a phone in that photo,” Barrister Sean Hardy said.
Ms Doney was captured driving with one hand in Sydney’s north in December last year and was fined $349.
She also lost five demerit points after she was accused of using her mobile phone.
“My phone’s large so if I actually had it on my ear you can see that the phone would be coming way past my hand,” Ms Doney said.
Ms Doney said it was peak hour, and she was on her way to work with her two kids in the back when the photos were taken.
The mother-of-two has carplay and claims she doesn’t need to touch her phone when she’s driving.
She gave authorities a photo comparison, and a call log.
“I had no calls at the time, I provided evidence of that but that didn’t seem to matter,” Ms Doney said.
Revenue New South Wales responded saying, “the images have been reviewed and clearly show the driver holding a mobile phone to their right ear”.
“Leniency is not appropriate for this offence as it is considered serious … hence we are unable to consider your overall driving history when reviewing this type of offence.”
Ms Doney said it was a portable camera that took the photos of her while she was driving.
Her options now are to pay the fine and cop the demerit points or take it to court and let a magistrate decide if there was a phone in her hand.
“There’s a little bit of a black void which could be mistaken for a black phone but that’s not good enough, you can’t just make the mistake and assume guilt,” Barrister, Mr Hardy said.
“I imagine the magistrate’s going to find reasonable doubt … but we’ll wait and see.
“It’s David vs Goliath and I think the government really needs to take a step back and give people a break if they’re not sure, absolutely sure.”
“It is a little bit of a habit just to put the arm up on the door. Yeah I would definitely say to others just be careful, make sure you’ve got two hands on the wheel,” Ms Doney said.
“I think the law is really important but if they’re getting it wrong then that’s a problem.”
Revenue New South Wales said the fine stands – but will review it if new information comes to hand.
Full Statement by Revenue NSW:
In this specific incident the photo viewed shows the driver of the vehicle using a mobile phone. Revenue NSW will further review the incident and contact the customer in this matter should further information be available.