When Glenmore Park resident Stephen Wilkinson was checking his mail, he was shocked to find that he had been busted for speeding in a school zone – on a day when students were enjoying the start of school holidays.
On Friday, December 21 last year, Mr Wilkinson was driving northbound on Parker Street near St Dominic’s College at about 3pm. Travelling at 57km/h, he thought he was well within the speed limit, knowing school had broken up more than a week earlier.
As a self-employed business owner, Mr Wilkinson was overcome with uncertainty as he relies heavily on his licence for his work and if the fine was correct he was guaranteed to lose it.
“There were no lights flashing and no kids around, no usual school traffic and so close to Christmas I didn’t think anything of it,” he said.
“I received the letter in the mail, I had no idea and it was just devastating because for me losing eight points will see my licence out, forcing me to be off the road for three months or so because I’ve had one other fine before.”
Due to the holiday period, double demerits were in place at the time of the incident, meaning a loss of eight points and a fine of $460.
“I can take it to court and appeal it but then there would be legal fees on top of all that,” he said.
“I assume many others were caught and if someone is going through financial hardship the last thing they need is a surprise like this, and if they rely on their licence for work like I do it creates big ongoing issues.”
A spokesperson from the Roads and Maritime Services said the date was a gazetted staff development day and thus the school zone road rules still applied.
“School zones are in place on publicly notified school days including school development days. It is important to remember that government schools must accept students on all publicly notified school days including pupil free and development days,” the spokesperson said.
Mr Wilkinson submitted his fine for review but it was rejected as the date of his offence was considered the official last day of term.
Mr Wilkinson is hoping his story will serve as a warning to other motorists.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.