Police v Ross Davidson (Shepparton Magistrates Court, O’Callaghan M, 28 January 2014), reported in the Shepparton News, 29 January 2014, p. 5.
The defendant was (and presumably still is) a professional driver. He routinely crossed the Goulburn River Bridge at Murchison in a 19 metre long heavy vehicle. The road narrowed when it reached the bridge and his evidence was that he had to swing the truck wide to avoid hitting a guard rail.
The defendant was charged with failing to keep to the left of the centreline of the road at the bridge. He pleaded guilty but contended that it was impossible to comply with the law.
The defendant appears to have been unrepresented.
Despite the defendant’s guilty plea, the Court declined to record a conviction or impose a fine, so that the only sanction was the statutory loss of demerit points on the defendant’s licence. His Honour observed that the motivation for his decision was that –
The message I am trying to send to VicRoads [the relevant authority] is that you have an inherently unsafe situation. If I can send a message to VicRoads it is to do something about this bridge. This seems to me to be a bridge whose architecture might have been fine in 1938 (when it was built), but in 2014 it needs revisiting”
The defendant regularly used the bridge and so presumably could not argue that his crossing of the centreline was exactly involuntary (although the evidence did not reveal where the nearest practicable alternative crossing of the river was). To that extent, the case perhaps has a faint echo of R v Larsonneur, 24 Cr App Rep 74 (CCA, Eng., 1933)