WAS it “stupid” or “just arrogant” for a young man to drive a BMW up the Mitchell Freeway with blue and red flashing lights so motorists would think it was a police car?
This was a question Joondalup Magistrate Michelle Pontifex asked today when she fined 24-year-old RAC employee Murat Unlu $1800 for impersonating a police officer in August, an offence that carries a maximum six-month jail term.
The court heard Unlu admitted to police he was using the lights on his windscreen so cars would clear a path for him heading north on the freeway.
Ms Pontifex considered the offence a “real disregard for others’ safety”.
“Is it stupid or were you just arrogant?” she said.
“Working for the RAC, you’re a person who ought to know better.”
Unlu pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier hearing.
Police prosecutor John Horton told the court Unlu was driving a blue BMW about 7.30pm near Warwick Road on August 31.
Police stopped him near the freeway overpass in Clarkson.
Duty lawyer Andrew Parker, who was representing Unlu, said the facts might give the impression Unlu had committed the offence before, but it was the first time he had tried it.
He said the young man had learned his lesson.
“Although his behaviour is stupid and foolish, it does seem to be a one off,” he said.
Mr Parker said the RAC had refused a character reference for him given their stance on road safety.
He proposed the matter be considered at the “lower end of the scale” because he had not made direct contact with a member of the public posing as a police officer.
Senior Constable Horton disagreed, arguing he did involve the public – and dangerously.
“The likelihood of an accident increases when you’re trying to get cars out of your way, people get confused,” he said.
Ms Pontifex said it was a “serious offence” and also disagreed it was at the minor end of offending.
Mr Parker requested a spent conviction for Unlu, which will be heard in Joondalup Magistrates Court on December 8 to give him time to find character references.
He was ordered to pay $190.85 costs.