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$2,875 fine for little-known road rule

Cars on the road in Sydney, NSW. Australian money notes. Fine concept.
Drivers can be slapped with a hefty fine for breaking this rule. (Source: Getty)

Next time you run to the shops, don’t forget to lock your car and wind your windows up.

Drivers are being warned of an obscure road rule that could cost them thousands. In many parts of Australia, it is illegal to leave your car unlocked or windows wound down.

This is known as “making a motor vehicle secure” and it generally applies when you move more than 3 metres away from your car.

“You must secure/lock your vehicle before leaving it parked on a road,” the Queensland government said on its website.

“Your vehicle is considered unattended when you are more than 3m away from it.”

In NSW and Queensland, motorists can be hit with a maximum of 20 penalty units for failing to secure their car - which works out to $2,200 in NSW and $2,875 in Queensland.

Victorian motorists face up to three penalty units, or a maximum fine of around $554. While in Western Australia, motorists can be slapped with one penalty unit, which is currently $50.

Police can also issue smaller on-the-spot fines, commonly $114 in NSW and $117 in Victoria.

Windows can be open by up to 2 centimetres in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia, and up to 5 centimetres in Queensland.

Aussies slapped with fines

The purpose of the road rule is to stop theft. While the little-known rule is not often enforced, there have been cases of Aussie drivers getting slapped with fines.

Last year, NSW lawyer David Keith Allen copped a $114 fine when he stopped his car to buy milk in Woollahra and decided to leave his car windows down.

Allen pleaded guilty in the Downing Centre Local Court, but told the magistrate the fine came as a surprise to him.

The magistrate said he believed the rule sought to “reduce insurance premiums for the community” and “keeping costs down for everybody”.

The magistrate found the offence occurred but decided to dismiss the charge.

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