When Ben Hoenig broke his leg during a soccer game he thought his day had gone bad enough.
But when he arrived home he found he’d been slapped with a $439 fine for running a red light in Bradbury, in Sydney’s south-west – issued while he was actually travelling in an ambulance 50km away from the camera.
The 27-year-old, who was knocked down in the inner-city suburb of Alexandria, said he wouldn’t have known that he wasn’t the driver of the car that ran the red light unless he’d cross-referenced the fine with his hospital admission date.
Ben Hoenig (pictured), 27, broke his leg during at soccer game before being fined $439
Ben Hoenig’s Lexus (left) and the white Mazda hatchback that ran through a red light (right)
‘I was 100 per cent sure that it wasn’t my car’ he told A Current Affair.
‘I’m really glad I checked or I’d be paying for somebody else’s mistake,’ he added.
According to statistics, Revenue NSW gave out 178,000 red light camera fines in the last financial year – which left taxpayers with $82million less in their pockets.
Since 2011 the state has issued more than 700,000 camera-detected penalties every year, with 0.2 per cent of them – or 1260 fines – sent out to the wrong people.
Mr Hoenig went online to find that the car pictured committing the offence was a white Mazda hatchback, and not the dark Lexus that Mr Hoenig drives.
Camera number plate recognition is to blame – Mr Hoenig’s number plate is JD 128 while the white Mazda’s is JO 128 – and local authority staff are meant to double-check that number plates snapped by red light cameras match car descriptions.
Ben Hoenig (pictured) found the mistake after noticing the date and different locations
‘If it happened to me it could’ve happened to anyone’, Mr Hoenig said.
‘It’s showing that it makes mistakes. It’s only been found because I checked it. How many people get fines and just pay it without checking it?’ he said.
His father, Heffron MP Ron Hoenig, was the first person to see that his son had a fine in the post, and immediately assumed that his son was guilty before checking the time stamps.
‘In my opinion my son was dudded by a money-hungry government that’s just trying to rake in revenue,’ he said.
Anyone issued a fine from a camera can go online to see a photograph of the car that committed the offence and contact Revenue NSW if they believe they’ve been issued the wrong notice.