A fine state of affairs Dover landed himself in when he moved too far to the left

Alf’s advice was to stay in the middle.

Alf has a soft spot for Dover Samuels and – he will now confess – tried to give him good political advice over a beer now and again.

That advice included a warning to Dover to avoid moving too far to the left.

Dover didn’t really take it on board.

Accordingly (as you will learn here) he has finished up in court.

The experience has cost him a few bucks.

Former Cabinet minister Dover Samuels has defended a traffic ticket for driving in a bus lane, claiming country drivers don’t know city rules.

The defence failed – and Mr Samuels found his $150 traffic fine inflated by $132.89 court costs.

The former Labour Party politician tried to persuade the Auckland District Court that the divide between town and country had led to the fine.

Moreover, he was fighting it “on a matter of principle, as a man of principle”.

Part of the point of principle was being programmed to keep left (contrary to Alf’s advice that he should try to steer a middle course).

“When I got notice of this alleged offence, I was quite shocked and surprised. I don’t believe I committed an offence.”

He said his 60 years of driving – most of it in the Far North – was religiously governed by the road code instruction to drive on the left. Doing otherwise would be a “disaster”, he said.

And then, when he came to Auckland, he did exactly the same on Quay St in the central city and was fined $150.

Mr Samuels said it was “chaos” having different rules in Auckland to other parts of the country and blamed revenue gathering for the enforcement strategy.

“It is an avenue for fines,” he said.

“I’m here on a matter of principle, as a man of principle.

“The principle law of this country is that you drive on the left-hand side of the road,” he said. “Are there any signs which tell me, or people who come from up north, that you can’t drive on the left-hand side of the road?”

The parking officer apparently pointed out there were signs everywhere. “They say ‘bus lane begins’.”

Justice of the Peace Wallis Walker summarised the argument of Auckland Transport, explaining it was a “strict liability offence”.

It meant the case was seen in strict black-and-white terms – all it needed was proof Mr Samuels had driven in a bus lane.

Dover should have consulted Hone Harawira.

Hone could have told him what strict black-and-white terms are all about.

But Dover didn’t do that.

As a consequence, the Justice told him:

“Unfortunately, Mr Samuels, this being an infringement matter, the court has no authority to recognise your good driving record of 60 years. It it was a more serious matter, we could have taken that into account.”

She wished him “good driving in the North”.

Dunno if the experience will drum into him the benefits of holding a middle course.


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