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Conditsis Lawyers Gosford
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Most people now know that you cannot drive a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. However it is not just a motor vehicle which you cannot ‘drive’.

‘Vehicle’ has a much more extended definition under the Road Transport legislation in NSW than one would think. See the NSW Road Rules 2014, Part 2, Division 2, and Rule 15 for the definition of a vehicle which includes not only a motor vehicle, trailer and tram but also an animal drawn vehicle and the animal itself that is being ridden or drawing the vehicle.

A vehicle also includes a motorised wheelchair that can travel at over 10km per hour! And, importantly for my client in a case I recently acted in a bicycle.

So if you were thinking of organising a pub crawl on pushies, think again!
You can be charged by the police with a drink driving offence for riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol. And if you are convicted of that offence there is a minimum disqualification from driving of six (6) months!

The police do not have the power to breath test you (or conduct breath analysis). If you are involved in an accident a blood sample can be taken. However evidence can be given by police in relation to someone’s intoxication (smelling of alcohol, appearance, behaviour).

My client appeared unrepresented in the Local Court. He did not understand the ramifications of drink driving on a bike! He was fined and disqualified from driving for six (6) months.

He came to seek some legal assistance from us and we advised him to appeal the severity of the sentence. He appealed the conviction to the District Court and, although the offence was proven, he was not convicted and the matter was dismissed pursuant to section 10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act upon him promising to the Court to be good for twelve (12) months (a good behaviour bond). This result was due to his usual good character and also because he had been fined for other related parts of the incident (such as riding the bike negligently!).

So he is still able to drive a car today but he has learnt his lesson and he won’t be drinking and riding ever again!

Natasha Konic,
Conditsis Lawyers
Accredited Specialist, Criminal Law

(02) 4324 5688
enqiry@conditsis.com
conditsis.com

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JUDGES NOT OUT OF TOUCH – Survey Shows...

For many years, there has been a perception amongst the community that Judges are out of touch with contemporary societal values when it comes to sentencing. The question however, is whether that perception is the product of our Judges and Magistrates, in fact being out of touch with community values, or inaccurate, incomplete and misleading reporting of cases in the media which make it seem that the sentences imposed by Courts are inadequate for the crimes committed.

Criticising Magistrates and Judges for being supposedly too lenient on criminals has become a favourite pastime of many main stream media outlets. However, new research shows that, once fully informed about the facts of a case, most people within our community are actually more lenient on offenders than are Judges. This suggests that the problem is not the way Judges sentence offenders but, rather, the inaccurate and distorted way in which cases are reported and presented in the media.

New research by Professor Warner (who also happens to be the current Governor of Tasmania) provides irrefutable evidence that, once ordinary members of the community are properly informed about the facts of a particular case, most are actually more lenient towards the offender than Judges. In her research, Professor Warner surveyed jurors who sat through a trial and returned a verdict of guilty, asking those jurors what sentence they would have imposed on the offender, without knowing the sentence which the Judge actually imposed. The reason that jurors were chosen for this research is that they are ordinary members of the community, picked at random but, having sat through the whole trial, they were informed of all the facts in the case, not just those which a selective media may choose to report. The result was sobering, as 62% of the jurors came up with a sentence which was more lenient than that which the Judge imposed on the offender.

Clearly then, the media led perception of excessive leniency amongst Judges is not grounded in reality.

So, if Judges are not failing our community, why is there such a persistent perception to the contrary? The answer, surely, must be that it is in fact the main stream media that is failing us.

The problem is that there is a real disparity between the way in which cases are reported in the media and the actual facts of cases. The media thrives on controversy. This means that court reporters are under pressure to report on cases in a way in which it creates controversy even when none really exists. You may think that a court reporter who spends several days sitting in Court reporting on a case and files a story with the headline: “Judge imposes appropriate sentence” will not find favour with the editor. I am aware of reporters having filed reasonably accurate stories, only for the editor(s) to put a red pen through it and come up with a headline and content that entirely misrepresented the facts in the case.

The moral of the story is, next time you read an article in the newspaper or hear a story on the news about some outrageously lenient sentence imposed by a judge or magistrate, you should probably have a grain of salt on hand.

Michal Mantaj,
Conditsis Lawyers
Accredited Specialist, Criminal Law

(02) 4324 5688
enqiry@conditsis.com
conditsis.com

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Manny Conditsis giving a live interview to American News Channel WSJ at the end of last year. This is probably the most in depth and well balanced interview on the web.. 

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The Dean Waters Trial - One Of Our High Profile Cases Featured On CSI Australia
http://www.conditsis.com/category/landmark-cases/ 

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Manny's Interview On American News Channel CNN

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