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Pedestrian Council of Australia
Safety – Amenity – Access – Health

 

Media Release

Saturday 28 October 2006

 
Magistrates Cannot Quash Demerit Points

PCA Inquiries Reveal that Michael Monaghan Will Lose His Licence After Being Convicted of Driving at 78 kmh in a 40 kmh School Zone

 

On 18 October, the Daily Telegraph reported that Rugby League footballer, Michael Monaghan would not lose his licence, for driving at 78 kmh in a 40 kmh School Zone (see article below).  This was in spite of the fact that there is an automatic 3 months loss of licence and 4 Demerit Points for the offence.  It was also reported that: “Magistrate Margaret Quinn granted Monaghan's appeal against the automatic suspension and also waived his points loss.”

The RTA’s web-site states: “Demerit points are unaffected by a court disqualification. Any demerit points on your record will remain and may be used to suspend or refuse a licence at a later time. If the offence which resulted in the disqualification attracts demerit points, these will also be recorded on your record. Demerit points are recorded even if you are found guilty of the offence and the court dismisses the offence under Section 10(1) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.”

 

Further investigations by the PCA have revealed that while a magistrate may vary the fine and remove the 3 months loss of licence, under NSW law, he or she may not waive Demerit Points.  Mr Monaghan will either lose his licence for 3 months or be forced to become a P-Plate driver for a year: 4 Points in that year results in an automatic year off the road.

 

The Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby said: "The Demerit Point system is excellent.  It was designed to create balance, fairness and consistency.  It does not favour the rich.  Following countless contrary and inconsistent decisions such as this very case, the Government created specific regulations to ensure that all drivers are treated equally when awarded Demerit Points.

 

Mr Scruby added:  “In Victoria, the Government became so frustrated and concerned at the number of Section 10s being given for low range Drink Driving convictions that they provided 10 Demerit Points for between .05 and .069 BAC and the same for P-Platers up to .05 BAC.   Magistrates lose their discretion in Victoria for Drink-Driving convictions over .070 BAC. This may be worth considering, considering the significant number of Section 10s being given for low range Drink-Drive convictions in NSW and other states.

 

“It is vital that there is consistency and fairness in the penalty system for speeding and drink driving convictions.  Everyone ‘needs’ their licence.  That’s why it’s taken away when people speed, drink drive, or acquire more than 12 Demerit Points. It’s a punishment designed to get the perpetrators off the road and experience the inconvenience of being without a car.  It’s designed to change their behaviour.”  Mr Scruby said.

  

Contact:  Harold Scruby (0418) 110-011



Daily Telegraph – Wednesday 18 October 2006

 

Star's Sophie defence

By Steve Gee and Gemma Jones

Despite appearing with Sophie Delezio at the NRL grand final, Manly star Michael Monaghan faced court yesterday for making the same mistake that almost cost the courageous five-year-old her life. / The Daily Telegraph

 

JUST three weeks after appearing with Sophie Delezio at the NRL grand final, Manly star Michael Monaghan faced court yesterday for making the same mistake that almost cost the courageous five-year-old her life.

 

Monaghan faced losing his licence for speeding through a 40km/h school zone at 78km/h.

He admitted the offence but pleaded for leniency because he said he needed his licence to do charity work with organisations such as Sophie's Day of Difference Foundation.

 

Sophie's father Ron was unaware of Monaghan's defence until The Daily Telegraph contacted him last night. He said while he was disappointed Monaghan had been speeding, he refused to attack him.

 

"Michael Monaghan does a lot of great work in the community and it is disappointing to learn of his offence," Mr Delezio said.

 

"I sincerely hope that the public's perception of Michael is not unfairly tainted as a result."

 

Monaghan, 26, was booked speeding in a school zone at Balgowlah – close to where Sophie was struck on a pedestrian crossing – on August 16.

 

The offence carries an automatic three-month licence suspension, and the Manly hooker faced being banned from driving for an additional three months because the fine took his points tally over 12. But at Manly Court yesterday, the winner of the NRL's Ken Stephens Medal for community service relied on his charity work to keep him behind the wheel.

 

Monaghan's solicitor Ian Byrne told the court his client needed his licence to continue charity work, which includes visits to a school for special needs children on the Northern Beaches, and statewide work with the Police Citizens Youth Club.

 

Mr Byrne told how the footballer had been closely involved with Sophie at the time of the incident.

 

Monaghan had earlier met the tenacious schoolgirl through his charity work with the Day of Difference Foundation, set up by Sophie's father after her accident.

 

Sophie accompanied Monaghan to the NRL grand final last month, arriving by helicopter to carry the Telstra Cup onto the field.

 

Magistrate Margaret Quinn granted Monaghan's appeal against the automatic suspension and also waived his points loss.

 

"He does work with children with special needs, which works in his favour," Ms Quinn noted. "The irony is while he was helping Sophie he was speeding through a school zone."

 

The NRL star was fined $576. Outside court, a contrite Monaghan told The Daily Telegraph he was unaware he was in a school zone when he was booked.