The mother of an L-Plater who was fined $1600 by Victoria Police for having a driving lesson says she is “relieved” the fine has now been waived and the rules made clear for learner drivers.
Hunter Reynolds, 17, and her mother Sheree were issued the $1652 on-the-spot infringement as they drove from their home in the bayside Melbourne suburb of Hampton to Frankston on Sunday.
Sheree told 3AW on Monday that the police officer who fined them said they were driving “too far from home”.
The drive from Hampton to Frankston takes about 36 minutes.
In response to public outrage, Victoria Police withdrew the fine on Tuesday, conceding the law “wasn’t widely understood by the public”.
But, driving lessons will remain banned in the state under tough COVID-19 social distancing laws – meaning other learners could be fined.
Ms Reynolds told The New Daily she was pleased the rule had been clarified for other Victorian parents.
“I think the majority of people were thinking it was still OK to do some educational learning with their children,” Ms Reynolds said.
“We weren’t getting out of the car, nor visiting anybody – we were purely just going for a drive because it was great learning in the wet conditions and I wouldn’t have thought that would’ve been problematic.
“If anything, now Victorians know where they can stand as to whether they can or can’t drive with an L-plater.”
For those asking – yes – we’ve seen a copy of the actual infringement notice handed yesterday to a 17yo L Plater having a training drive with mum in the rain yesterday. pic.twitter.com/VjZTkNJVni
— Heidi Murphy (@heidimur) April 6, 2020
Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told 3AW on Tuesday that the officer should have shown discretion and issued a warning to the pair instead.
“We will withdraw it because clearly that [law] wasn’t widely understood by the public,” Deputy Commissioner Patton said.
“But it has, to a degree, highlighted a significant issue in terms of something that needed clarity.
“Undertaking a driving lesson by itself, to go out and simply drive off somewhere to undertake a driving lesson with your parent – you are not able to do it.”
During the past 24 hours, Victoria Police has issued 77 fines to people breaching lockdown laws, bringing the total number of infringements to 377 since the new restrictions were introduced on March 30.
Since March 21, officers have conducted 15,232 spot checks at homes, businesses and non-essential services operating across the state.
Meanwhile in New South Wales, two off-duty police offers have been fined for breaching public health orders over the weekend.
About 8.30pm on Saturday, officers spotted a 27-year-old woman who appeared drunk being helped by a man on King Street after attending a social gathering.
It was later discovered the woman was a senior constable, as well as a 27-year-old man who attended the same social event.
Both were fined $1000.
In Queensland, where the state’s borders have been sealed completely, police have issued 174 fines and turned around 852 vehicles.