25 year-old Eugene Chong Jiajun wanted to live out his fantasy of driving an expensive, high powered sports car. So he rented a Ferrari, pasted 2 false license plates that he got off the internet, and drove around.
His joy ride came to an end however when he was pulled over by a Land Transport Authority (LTA) officer for a check on 19th March 2013. Chong was driving a yellow Ferrari 360 Modena F1 at the time. His number plate showed SQ1H, which was registered to a silver Mercedes Benz E200 belonging to another unrelated owner.
For this deceit, Chong was sentenced to 2 weeks imprisonment, but on his appeal, Chong managed to escape prison after the appeal court imposed the maximum fine of $5,000 instead.
His lawyer Patrick Chin argued persistently that jail was not warranted as the district judge had failed to consider Chong’s motivation and was wrong to impose a deterrent sentence.
But Deputy Public Prosecutor Lin Yinbing argued that Chong’s reasons for driving with false plates were feeble and unsubstantiated. The alleged motivations should not distract the court from the fact that he had practised deceit, she said.
PP Lin also added that if Chong had used the rented vehicle to commit any offences with his fake license plates, he could potentially get away with the crimes because speed cameras are not equipped to pick out false number plates.
In such an event, the owner of the actual car could also be implicated and have to go through the inconvenience of the investigation process, she added.
Judicial Commissioner See Kee Oon acknowledged the potential harm of false plates, but said Chong’s motivations seemed innocent and there was no unlawful intention.