The mother of a schoolgirl who was fined $1,652 for taking a driving lesson has lashed out at police.
Hunter Reynolds was learning to drive in wet conditions with her mother Sharee in Frankston in Victoria on Sunday when a policewoman pulled them over.
The officer told the 17-year-old she was breaking the stage-three coronavirus restriction rules and slapped her with a huge fine.
Her mother has vowed to contest the fine, calling it ‘ridiculous’.
‘Common sense did not prevail,’ Ms Reynolds told The Herald Sun. ‘I didn’t for one moment think we were breaking the rules. We live together, we didn’t leave the car or stop.’
Hunter Reynolds was fined $1,652 for taking a driving lesson with her mother during coronavirus restrictions
Ms Reynolds’ fine from Sunday in Frankston is described as being ‘non-essential travel – COVID-19’
The infringement comes amid confusing enforcement of coronavirus restrictions around the country, which have seen thousands of beachgoers allowed to break social distancing rules while others have been penalised for taking a breather on a park bench while staying more than 1.5 metres apart.
Since last Monday, residents in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT have been banned from leaving home except for food and supplies, medical care, exercise, and work or education.
Ms Reynolds didn’t think taking a driving lesson was doing the wrong thing.
‘We didn’t think for one minute that we would be doing anything wrong,’ she told 3AW on Monday.
‘We weren’t in contact with any person, we weren’t stopping anywhere, we weren’t planning on visiting any destinations, we were just learning to drive in those conditions.
‘She (the officer) said we were too far from home and we would cop a fine, and that Hunter would be the person to receive that fine.’
The Kilbreda College year 12 student said she was stressing when police pulled her over.
‘I was just shocked, because I obviously hadn’t done anything wrong, or so I thought. I was just really stressing,’ she said.
Sharee Reynolds (pictured left) vowed to contest the fine, calling it ‘ridiculous’
The officer told them they had been ‘smashing it on the roads today’.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton defended police fining the teenager, saying a driving lesson was a non-essential activity.
Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said there was a possibility the fine would be reversed.
‘It’s quite possible it will be withdrawn because the public is now aware they can’t be doing that activity, unless of course it’s mixed in with driving to the shops where you are exempt to go and buy food, those sort of things,’ he said.
Mr Patton said a decision on whether to withdraw the fine would include an assessment of all circumstances.
Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns said fines should be saved for serious offenders or risk clogging the justice system with challengers of their offences.
‘If police are going to issue large numbers of fines they can expect many will be challenged and clog up an already desperately over loaded and delayed Victorian court system,’ he said.
‘Fines should only be used for serial noncompliance.’
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said Ms Reynolds’ fine will be assessed and potentially reversed