Motorist clocks $93,000 in fines

By Julian Lee

Hayden Smith managed to park his car in a friend's driveway to avoid getting even more fines. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Hayden Smith managed to park his car in a friend's driveway to avoid getting even more fines. Photo / Steven McNicholl

One of New Zealand's greatest traffic law breakers owes $93,000 in fines, has served 760 hours' community work and once got ticketed six times in one day.

But Hayden Smith says the fines are unfair - and he just wants somewhere to park his car.

The 37-year-old is one of the country's worst offenders and has been racking up fines for almost 20 years, dating back to his student days.

Most of the tickets on his enormous list of violations are for parking offences, although there are plenty for his car being unlicensed and unregistered. Others are for speeding and failing to have a licence. There are also a handful for petty theft.

Mr Smith, a single father-of-one, told the Weekend Herald he believed he was the victim of a particularly aggressive traffic warden.

But Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said the law was straightforward. "Hayden Smith is breaking the law by having an unlicensed and unregistered vehicle parked on the road. The law says his vehicle can be ticketed and as the last registered owner he is liable for the infringement notices.

"It's simple: the owner of the vehicle is responsible for keeping the vehicle off the road if it is not road worthy."

Mr Smith, who works part-time as a market researcher, owes most of the money to Auckland and Christchurch councils.

His failure to pay has landed him in court and he still has 200 hours' community work to do.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show the total owing in traffic fines generally is almost $50 million.

Spokesman Matt Torbit said he was unaware of anyone who owed as much as Mr Smith. One person owed $185,000 but it was unclear whether that involved other offences.

Asked about being New Zealand's worst traffic offender, Mr Smith said: "I'm shocked, but I'm not exactly an angel, you know. I do want people to know about the exorbitant amount they make off parking fines."

Many of Mr Smith's more recent fines - about $6000 worth - were racked up on his unlicensed, unregistered vehicle which was parked outside his Burnley Tce, Mt Eden, home.

He thinks the fines that have been imposed on him since he moved into the area are unfair because he doesn't have anywhere to park his vehicle apart from on the road.

"I've walked out to my car on just a casual Wednesday and, hello, there are four tickets on it.

"I've walked out there on a Friday of the same week and there are another four tickets on it," he said.

He has tried to explain his situation to the parking wardens, and thinks he may be the target of a particularly aggressive one.

"They've obviously seen my car sitting on the road because I don't have an off-street park and they just keep ticketing it, ticketing it, ticketing it," Mr Smith said.

Mr Hannan said the offending car was not being targeted.

"It has been ticketed by multiple parking officers and does not appear in any of our monitoring lists for on-going enforcement."

Mr Smith said the issue was having a negative effect on his life. "It's creating trouble for me, it's affecting my life in every way ... I'm trying to manage my finances amid my work and looking after my son as well."

He said it was unfair that the law had come down on him so hard when others seemed to get lesser sentences for more significant crimes.

"Sir Douglas Graham, he was given 300 hours' community service for his part in a $125 million [case]."

(Sir Douglas, a former Cabinet minister, was also ordered to pay reparations of $100,000 after the collapse of Lombard Finance and Investments.)

Mr Smith has finally managed to move his car to a friend's place.

He has the equivalent of more than $15,000 worth of fines to work off by doing community service once he has completed the 960 hours he is working on at the moment.

- NZ Herald

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