‘The law may be an ass,’ magistrate tells driver
MAGISTRATE DJ Dwyer was sympathetic when a man facing mandatory punishment said his unlicensed driving offence resulted from bad Transport Department advice.
“Sometimes you’ll hear the law is an ass and that may be true in this case,” Mr Dwyer told Bernard Regenald Kelly, after Kelly explained the situation.
But the law allowed the courts no flexibility, he said.
Kelly, 42, of Mackay pleaded guilty in Gympie Magistrates Court on Thursday, to a June 30 charge of driving while disqualified as a result of accumulated demerit points.
He told the court he only drove because a Transport Department official told him he could.
Told that the punishment was mandatory, regardless of any explanation, Kelly confirmed he had committed the offence.
“I drove on that day,” he told the court.
But he said he had not known he was suspended, despite specifically asking.
Mr Dwyer said he could not consider mitigating circumstances and was bound to impose the mandatory minimum, including a six-month disqualification.
“The legislation says six months. I’ve got no say in it,” Mr Dwyer said.
Kelly said he had only just reinstated his licence a few weeks earlier.
“I got my licence back on the seventh and they suspended it on the eighth.
“I asked them if they could search the system and they said everything was fine,” he said.
It was then that Mr Dwyer said he believed the law may have been an ass, but that did not mean a court could overturn the requirements of the legislation.
Mr Dwyer said the law also specified that “the advice of government departments doesn’t make a defence.
“There are often cases where people are hard done by, but I have to give you six months.
“I have every sympathy for you, but there is nothing I can do about it,” Mr Dwyer said.
He fined Kelly $200 in addition to the disqualification.
Kelly was among 11 drivers before the court on licence-related matters, including both unlicensed and disqualified driving charges