This article is focused on New Zealand law and explains issues from a Common law perspective.

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How to defend yourself against a speeding fine within NZ


New Zealand speeding fines are often given on the spot - that is, you are pulled over and issued with an instant fine (or "infringement fee"). These can simply be paid by the required dates, and there is no need to go to court.

However, you can defend yourself against an instant fine, as you can any fine notice that you receive in the post.

How do I let the Court know I want to defend the fine?

You can do this by signing the back of the infringement notice (the speeding ticket) in the space provided and returning it to the Police. The court with send you a summons, giving you a date for a court hearing at which you can defend yourself, and other details.

When is it worth defending a fine?

You should only go to court if you have a reasonable defence - if you lose you will incur further costs, and so it will be more expensive than had you simply paid the fine in the first place.

Evidence from a speed camera is enough for a Court to convict you.

Writing a letter to the Police to ask that the fine be waived

Another option before going to court to defend a fine is to write a letter to the Police or the enforcement officer on the ticket, explaining any exceptional circumstances. For example, it may be that there was a medical emergency and you were driving to the hospital. You should mention if you've completed a defensive driving course or if you've never had a ticket before.

In the letter you should request that the fine be waived. The Police may drop the charges.

Sometimes it may be helpful for a lawyer to apply to the Police for the charges to be dropped if the circumstances warrant it.

What information should I emphasise in defending the fine?

As well as any exceptional circumstances, in defending a charge you should bring attention to the surrounding circumstances – for example, the time of day, the type of road you were on, and the amount of traffic on the road. Together this information may result in the Police dropping the charges against you.

Cautionary notes
  • The Court will require any "exceptional circumstances" that you claim to be just that - exceptional. You will not succeed by defending yourself simply on the basis that you are an experienced or mature driver.

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