Herald on Sunday
Motorist fumes at $200 penalty ‘for not drink-driving’
A motorist is furious after copping a $200 fine after choosing to not drink and drive and spend the night safely in a public carpark instead.
Tao Scott, 36, from Tauranga, is awaiting legal advice over the ticket issued last Saturday morning, after he chose to sleep off the drinks he’d had the night before in his self-contained van in a carpark.
“It seems drink-driving is recommended in Queenstown District. I have been given a $200 fine in Arrowtown for NOT drink-driving,” he said.
“It feels like extortion. I will be fighting the Queenstown bylaw.”
Scott said three other vehicles had also stayed in the same carpark overnight but had not been ticketed.
Scott, who said he was a New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) member, believed the signage in the public carpark was misleading after he parked in an area seemingly reserved for campervans.
According to Google Maps, a 2019 image of what was believed to be the entrance to the same Ramshaw Lane carpark had a sign which stated “strictly no camping”. Scott acknowledged
he didn’t see this sign. Scott’s ticket specified his offence was “freedom camping in a prohibited area without prior permission”.
A Queenstown Lakes District Council bylaw prohibits freedom camping in town centres, residential areas and along key stretches of road. The bylaw was currently being challenged by the NZMCA.
Outside those areas, visitors in certified self-contained vehicles could park for up to two nights at any particular spot on Department of Conservation, district council or NZ Transport Agency land.
Scott emailed the council, requesting a reduced fine of $50 given his intent not to drive intoxicated, misleading signs, the fact that his van was self-contained and that it was a one-off.
In response, a council staffer said a reduced fine would not be granted and stated Scott’s right to pursue court action.
Asked whether he could afford the fine, Scott said he would “pay it and not eat”.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council had not commented by late last night.
In 2019, a similar issue arose when Arrowtown man Glenn Wallace was fined $200 for sleeping in his ute in central Queenstown after drinking.