PI$$ POOR: Truckie fined $500 for roadside 'leak'
A DRIVER has been hit with a whopping $541 fine for answering nature's call during a roadside check.
The driver, Graeme (who did not want to be identified any further), was shocked when he was handed the Penalty Notice by a Transport Roads and Maritime Services officer at the Armidale inspection site on the morning of February 28.
The offence, which comes under the Roads Regulation accused Graeme of "allowing to escape onto a road any liquid or any loose or waste material".
A notice that is usually reserved for leaking effluent from livestock transport vehicles.
"I am a diabetic so when I have to go I sometimes have to go," the 64-year-old driver explained.
Graeme said he had planned to "unload" when he reached the Black Mountain roadhouse a few kilometres away. Instead, he was stopped for a compliance check.
"We had been there for 20 minutes at that stage," Graeme said.
"While he (the RMS officer) was checking the back of the vehicle I had to go so I went around to the back of the truck, and out of the way to have a pee."
The driver, who has had more than 40 years on the road, said he had never encountered a situation like this in all his time.
"We are lucky when we have a toilet at our stops to begin with," he said.
"It's not like I was a was out in the middle of the road, I was on the side out of the way - the way drivers go to the toilet every day."
Graeme said he informed the officer of both his medical issue and his need for a bathroom.
"I asked him (the RMS officer) where he goes if he needs to go to the toilet, and he tells me he drives back into town," Graeme said.
"How am I supposed to do that in my truck? What do they expect me to do?"
The driver was without a load at the time of inspection and said there was nothing else that could have leaked from his vehicle that could have resulted in the fine.
"To make matters worse a cocky pulled up right behind me with decks full of sheep and more pee than me leaking everywhere," he said.
"He didn't get anything.
"What gets me is we have rest stops closing left, right and centre, you get a smelly port-a-loo on a good day and you can't find a shaded spot to save your life.
"Now I've been fined for taking up the only option we have been left with."
Roads and Maritime Service has since confirmed the incident and the infringement notice when contacted by Big Rigs.
Inspectors say during the course of the inspection, the driver of the heavy vehicle urinated between the drive tyres of the vehicle which left a pool and stream of urine on the inspection site.
"While Roads and Maritime understands the challenges to locate toilet amenities when travelling, urinating on a worksite poses health and safety risks to staff working at the site and impacts the thorough safety inspection performed by inspectors," the statement read.
Big Rigs had sought to confirm if RMS officers had issued similar infringements in the past for public urination.
RMS could not confirm if the officer present was aware of the driver's medical condition.
After receiving further questions from Big Rigs RMS released a second statement.
"After further investigation and consultation the infringement notice will be withdrawn," the spokesperson said.
Under the New South Wales law public urination is not specifically listed as an offence, however those caught by a police officer can be issued a Criminal Infringement Notice for Offensive Conduct.
The maximum penalty under this notice is $500.
A touch cheaper than Graeme's $541 Road Regulation infringement.
Proctor and Associates solicitors principal Peter Proctor said he would expect a strong defence would have been mounted against the use of a road regulation in this manner.
"Our view is that this was the deliberate misuse of provisions," Mr Proctor said.
"We would expect the Government of NSW would not have necessarily taken this approach.
"Clearly this is a matter beyond heavy vehicles and the intent of the legislation which is safety and endangerment on the roads.
"The intent of the legislation is surely not designed to bring sanctions against an individual's body functions," he said.
Though loos may be few and far between over the past five years RMS has spent more than $50million to deliver facilities for light and heavy vehicle drivers.
This includes is like sealed truck parking spaces, toilet facilities, suitable access in to facilities, signage, shade structures, shelter, water supply, tables and chairs.
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