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States to blame for exhausts confusion

exhausts Mt Mee police operation mountains cars traffic blitz

Riders are being fined for faulty or non-compliant exhausts because the states fail to consult on road rules and regulations, and police are conspiring to pervert the course of justice, says a long-time motorcycle campaigner.

Wayne Carruthers was commenting on a recent article in which a Brisbane Barrister outlined the argument why exhaust fines would not stand up in court.


“The exhaust issues raised reflect the unilateral attitudes taken by by many state roads administrative authorities,” Wayne says.

“The states have all signed agreements under the COAG process to consult on regulations and only act where there is agreement from all States to ensure that rules and regulations are unified across Australia.

“Time and time again the road transport authorities ignore these agreements and consider themselves exempt from abiding by the interstate agreements.”

Wayne Carruthers exhaust helmets
Wayne Carruthers

He gives the case of NSW where exhaust regulations are split across the EPA and the Transport Authorities.

“The NSW police apparently feel powerless to act and so recently showed signs of interpreting regulations improperly as they did with helmets and cameras,” he says.

“We previously had NSW-only exhaust regulations requiring a NSW sticker administered by the EPA complete with road blocks on the Pacific Highway north of Sydney. That debacle took six years to resolve. Interstate riders were the worst affected by this absurdity.”

Wayne says the situation with motorcycles is different to that with heavy transport.

“There has been a process underway for over 10 years to unify transport regulations and to ensure responsibility is placed upon the transport companies rather than the drivers as it had been in the past,” he says.

“The difference between the transport industry and the motorcycle industry is that the transport industry is well funded and well organised so they are able to effect change.”

Exhaust pipe bluing

Wayne says Police in Queensland, NSW and Victoria are discussing ways of acting on issues and interpreting standards and regulations to suit their own purposes.

“They are not upholding the law; they are attempting to subvert the law and the question arises as to whether they are attempting to pervert the course of justice.”

He says the problem is that riders continue to just pay the erroneous fines because the costs and pressure of challenging the fines is simply far too high.

“The temptation is to just pay the $106 fine and move on. However, what is important is to contest the allegation and dispose of it as quickly as possible,” he says.

  1. There is both good and bad on the idea of not blindly following other states in there attempts at road rules and registration options. As a for instance VSB-14 is not mandatory in NSW due to the issues within that document and the fact that many road user groups do not agree with the content. NSW is the only state that has not gazetted VSB-14 into its road rules and made it mandatory, this is a good thing.
    Whilst there is a strong case for formalising the various state road rules to align with the National rules, registration is a different beast altogether and is far more convoluted and difficult to re-align. Progress is being made and a good example of this is the National Street Rod Guidelines that are consistent across the nation. A poor example is bull bars or frontal impact protection which had the national Standards body at loggerheads for 6 years and they finally produced a document that was a compromise and had more holes in it than a slice of Swiss cheese. As a consequence each state has it’s own interpretation of it and some interpretations are based upon drawings and not the words.
    NSW Centre for Road Safety is working very hard with various stakeholders in an effort to bring into being a set of standards that are acceptable to road users and enthusiasts and are relying heavily on subject matter experts to assist in this large project. I currently represent the Motorcycle Council of NSW, The Australian Bullbar Council and NSW 4WD association on various committees dealing with vehicle standards.
    An example of this is the release of VSI-6 in November 2103 which details what is legal, what needs an Engineers certificate and what is illegal.
    This document outlines what requires certification and what does not and it is clear that an aftermarket exhaust on a motorcycle is not automatically illegal provided it does not emit noise over and above the prescribed limit. The only other requirement is the pipe must be stamped with the manufacturers name. The MCC of NSW worked with the Centre for Road Safety on developing this document and lot of negotiation went into averting the requirement for an Engineers Certificate for an aftermarket exhaust.
    Whilst VSI-6 is clear in what is legal and what is not, it is subject to interpretation by the NSW Police officer on the side of the road and there have been many instances of vexatious defects being issued to riders that do not hold up in court and the pipes are quite legal in every respect including the subsequent noise test. The MCC of NSW has successfully guided a number of riders through the maze of exhaust issues in NSW leading to a not guilty verdict in court.
    Our suggestion is you print, read and carry a copy of VSI-6 with you so you do not get bluffed on the side of the road. Ensure your bikes pipes are with in the specified noise limits and if needs be get a test done and carry the results with you.
    Don’t just accept the fine and pay it, get advice on the matter and act accordingly. Before paying the fine get the pipe tested and cleared at a private testing facility (the MCC can provide details of these) and get a copy of the results sent through to SDRO (NSW) to have the fine cleared first then get the defect cleared.
    If enough of these cases get thrown out of court then the officers using this tactic as a weapon will cease and riders can be left in peace.
    Christopher Burns
    MCC of NSW

  2. The first step before going to court is to send a letter to the appropriate body in your state that deals with traffic offences and has the power to cancel a fine.
    The letter should contain a politely worded request to vacate the alleged offence as it was issued in error. Then back this up by including the relevant information such as the applicable legislation and how it is supposed to be applied and any results of compliance test done, do them before sending the letter don’t try to bluff.
    The benefit of sending a letter is three fold, first it may result in the fine being cancelled
    Second the letter will often be handed to the majistrate so he will have your argument before him her and you won’t have to try and get it out in court.
    Third and best the majistrate will often read your letter and decide on the day to vacate the charge as he probably knows it was a vexatious charge already and doesn’t want to waste time on it.

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