BLIND EYE: Cops refuse to slap drivers with hefty fine
A QUEENSLAND police officer says police have stopped handing out "obscenely expensive" new fines as they are copping excessive abuse, saying they won't pay for the government's bad decision.
The officer, who does not want to be named, said he was not the only officer in his region who refused to slap motorists with a $1000 fine for using their mobile phone while driving.
The fines, which also come with four demerit points, were implemented by the state government on February 1 in a move to crack down on distracted drivers.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey recently spruiked how his party was leading the way on road safety by introducing the "toughest fines in Australia" for drivers using their mobile phones.
The police officer said the move to raise the single penalty was hypocritical, considering no other penalties were raised, and that drug and drink-driving was still a huge issue.
He confessed officers had stopped using their usual "eagle-eyed" approach and chose to seek out other offences instead.
"The fines are completely out of proportion with every other offence," he said.
"We are turning a blind eye to it because we still have to justify the fine to ourselves."
The police officer said they could not be expected to slap a driver with the huge fine when infringements for other serious offences were much less expensive.
"Seatbelts are about $400, a speeding ticket is between $200 and $300," he said.
"If you have three or four cannabis plants in your back yard you won't get a $1000 fine."
Mr Bailey said a recent rollout of "world-leading, high-tech cameras" would also catch people distracted by their phones.
The police officer said officers instead fined drivers using their phones for careless driving, which carried a penalty of about $500.
"A lot of the time these people are business people … tradies going from job-to-job," he said.
The officer said police were also dealing with abuse from those who copped the hefty fine.
"They're not happy. How would you react if you got that fine?" he said.
The government's camera trial follows a rollout across NSW, where a handful of cameras detected 21,000 drivers using handheld devices in their first two months.
The cameras can operate from trailers and will be installed on bridges and overpasses.