Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Nooo!! Not my car!!

Nowadays in South Australia, if you continue to drive a car like a nong, you will not only lose your licence but you also risk losing your car. Courts can order that your car be forfeited if you commit a certain number of offences within a 10 year period or if you commit what is called a "forfeiture offence". That's what happened to someone recently. They appealed the decision but, unlucky for them, were not successful.

The person concerned was a relief teacher. That meant that he was not paid during school holidays so money was tight. He also lived in a regional town so it might be argued that getting to different schools could be difficult.

If you can show that you will suffer "severe financial or physical hardship" if your car were forfeited, there is a chance that it won't be. As I understand it though, once you've got to the stage of forfeiture, that is the default position unless you can show the severe financial or physical hardship.

In this particular case, the person's mother and father were in a position to him to school if their work permitted it. The Judge also noted that there would be occasions where a colleague could offer a lift or the town bus would be available. In addition, if there was nothing else, the taxi fare would be about $15.

The Judge also said this:

There are other avenues available to Mr Spring to get to work. He can ride a bicycle. On days when the weather is good he should be able to ride to McDonald Park and Reidy Park Primary Schools, which are within about 5 km of his home. It might be a bit much to expect him to, at least initially, ride the 10 km to Compton Park Primary School, which is a more arduous, hilly journey and takes about 45 minutes. Disappointingly, there are no showering or changing facilities available to teachers who ride to work.

Wise words indeed although pretty generous. Note that only if the weather is fine might he be able to ride 5km. Initially, it might be too much to expect a 10km ride. These are distances that Dutch children ride every day. And it's not just a question of their journey being flat. So is much of Adelaide and even in the country town where the teacher lives, while there are hills, they are hardly the Alps.

I also have a bit of an issue with the showering facilities comment. If he gets himself a decent comfy bike and rides leisurely, he should be fine. If he bought himself something like a Workcycle FR8, he could easily carry his students' work home for marking.

In the end, the Judge recognised that forfeiture of the car would cause substantial inconvenience but not severe financial or physical hardship. I do of course feel very sorry for him but the fact that the loss of a car would cause substantial inconvenience in such a small town is perhaps a problem. In a recent (thoroughly well written) blog post, At War With The Motorist discussed this and made the point that the relevant minister "should not be concerned by the fact that it is so difficult to get around by car. He should be concerned by the fact that it is so difficult to get around without one." (My emphasis) Quite so. A town like Mount Gambier can be cycled from end to end without difficulty. Yet it is made increasingly difficult for so many people for whom running a car is a significant financial burden to the point where they have very little option.


  1. Mount Gambier's quite big. I wouldn't wanna cycle from one to the other.

    Also, when I get home, Am I gonna see this dodgy bloke running around, taking photos of intersections and bike lanes shouting "PHOAR!"?

  2. Oh come on Dave. It's about 4 kilometres at its widest bit. You'd walk further than that for a beer. Start on your stabiliser wheels and work your way up.

    As to the weirdo at the lights, you'll have that for a while and he'll have a website called Mount Gambier Cycle Chic. Once the novelty wears off though he'll stop.

  3. Ouch, car forfeiture would be a bit of a problem for someone who has a habit of reckless driving. But for me, that would be a lesson for other drivers to be more disciplined and responsible while on the road.