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Offline AshSimmonds

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Drivers contest speed fines

ANGRY motorists are being forced to pay hefty speeding fines because of ongoing problems with highway speed-checking devices, a court has heard.

Three motorists appeared in Geelong Magistrates' Court yesterday, each initially prepared to fight fines received on the Melbourne-bound Princes Freeway at Avalon Rd Overpass last year.

Colleen Stephens told magistrate Terry Wilson that at the time she checked her  speedo and it read 100km/h. But the highway speed check had her travelling at only 93 km/h.

``When the speed check sign said 93km/h and my car said 100km/h I felt I could speed up,'' she said.

Ms Stephens said she received three traffic infringement notices all about the same time and from the same spot.

``One of those was withdrawn and when no one would tell me why it had been withdrawn it stirred my curiosity,'' she said.

Ms Stephens said she wrote to the Department of Justice about the speed check sign, inquiring as to how often it was checked and who was responsible for its accuracy.

``They said it was checked every six months and had to be within 2 per cent of the speed camera,'' she said.

``They would not tell me when the speed check was last tested and I have since written to Freedom of Information to find out.''

Ms Stephens said that while in her case the speed check showed a discrepancy of 7km/h, a recent observation on her part showed the same speed check as having a discrepancy of 9km/h.

Andrew Giftakopoulos said he received six speeding notices in the mail on the same day last year.

``All were from the Avalon Rd Overpass and three were marked withdrawn,'' he said.

``I tried to find out why three were withdrawn but no one would tell me.

``I told the traffic camera office I would be taking the matters to court and fighting them.

``Today I found out that the demerit points had already been added to my licence even though the matter hadn't been heard.''

Mr Giftakopoulos said he regularly travelled the Princes Highway for work and regularly checked his speedo with the overhead speed check.

``If it is out, then it's bordering on extortion,'' he said.

Mr Giftakopoulos said he did not believe he was speeding, but after looking at his options felt he had no choice.

``If I fight, it will be difficult to prove and today I learned it will cost me about $1200 to get an expert to give evidence,'' he said.

``I can't afford that sort of money but if I don't fight it, I cop the fine and demerit points.''

Ms Stephens, Mr Giftakopoulos and a third man Justin Meggs in the end pleaded guilty.

Ms Stephens' charge was found proven and dismissed.

Mr Giftakopoulos was without conviction fined $365.

Mr Meggs was without conviction fined $100.

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