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Greens want more social justice in traffic fines

By johnboy - 22 February 2012 45

The Greens’ Amanda Bresnan has announced she’s going to try and legislate more payment options for the badly driving poor:

Greens Transport Spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA, said that the current system of traffic fine administration was resulting in harsh and unjust outcomes for Canberra’s most vulnerable individuals and families.

“It has been described as a ‘sledgehammer approach’, and the fact is that it is ruining people’s lives,” said Ms Bresnan.

“The current system provides very limited payment options. Failure to pay a traffic fine in the time limit results in automatic licence suspension. For people who are on a low income or suffering from other disadvantage, the spiralling impacts of this can be devastating.

“Disadvantaged and vulnerable people often rely on their drivers licence to access employment, income, support, and housing. Once their licence is fine suspended, it can be virtually impossible to repay the fine and reobtain the licence.

“The reality is that in Canberra we have people who are losing their employment, their income and their housing as a result of an inflexible traffic fine system.

“The Greens’ legislation makes sensible amendments to make the system more fair and flexible, with new payment options and opportunities for provisional reinstatement of fine-suspended licences while fines are being paid.

I was not expecting the Greens to be entrenching the idea that driving is a right.

What’s Your opinion?


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45 Responses to
Greens want more social justice in traffic fines
16
harvyk1 1:12 pm
22 Feb 12
#

I have never received a traffic fine, in fact the closest I came was a parking ticket which was withdrawn after I wrote a letter to the ACT Roads (or whatever they call themselves). So as they say, I think I am qualified to throw the first stone…

and yet I won’t…

If you are on a low income \ stretched to the limit or even someone who is on monthly pays a $100 or whatever the fine amount is, could be a problem for you. What is being advocated here as far as I can tell is the time limits to pay a fine, and the payment methods are expanded. I do not see this as a way a low income earner can escape the fine, I see this as a way that a low income earner is not disproportionally affected by receiving a fine.

and yes, demerit points where created as a way of making sure those with money where still punished if they broke traffic laws, as everyone has (or can gain depending on how anal you want to be) 12 points regardless of how much money you have.

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17
Thumper 1:21 pm
22 Feb 12
#

If you are on a low income \ stretched to the limit or even someone who is on monthly pays a $100 or whatever the fine amount is, could be a problem for you. What is being advocated here as far as I can tell is the time limits to pay a fine, and the payment methods are expanded. I do not see this as a way a low income earner can escape the fine, I see this as a way that a low income earner is not disproportionally affected by receiving a fine.

Or the bleeding obvious, don’t break traffic rules.

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18
Chop71 1:27 pm
22 Feb 12
#

I would have thought the greens would want people on the buses, thus increasing traffic fines.

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19
BallOfMonkey 1:28 pm
22 Feb 12
#

FFS people, I’m having trouble understanding how this proposal from the Greens has drawn such ire. From my reading of the proposal it is simply an attempt to ensure that there aren’t overly harsh consequences from fines on those who may not be as well off as the majority of society.

buzz819 highlighted that there’s already a slightly informal method to extend fine payment periods through writing to the ACT Chief Police Officer. If the Greens are simply seeking to formalise what’s already in place then what’s the issue?

Soapboxes are all well and good, but remember just how good you’ve got it before you go denouncing those less fortunate.

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20
nice_enough 1:29 pm
22 Feb 12
#

Jeeez, some of you jump to some pretty far out conclusions, for your thinly vailed Greens bashing attempts.

From what I can tell this has nothing to do with reducing fines for the poor, only making the fine payments more flexible.

In the case where you may earn $2000 a week, your $250 fine will hardly effect you. If you are on $200 a week then suddenly paying this infringement becomes a far far greater burden. The ramifications for someone not being able to pay the fine, in the 2-3 weeks? (Not sure as I have only ever received 1 infringement around 10 years ago) is a far far greater punishment for the ‘crime’ than for someone who can easily afford it.

No one is suggesting reduced fines or indexing fines to income.

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21
NoImRight 1:38 pm
22 Feb 12
#

nice_enough said :

Jeeez, some of you jump to some pretty far out conclusions, for your thinly vailed Greens bashing attempts.

From what I can tell this has nothing to do with reducing fines for the poor, only making the fine payments more flexible.

In the case where you may earn $2000 a week, your $250 fine will hardly effect you. If you are on $200 a week then suddenly paying this infringement becomes a far far greater burden. The ramifications for someone not being able to pay the fine, in the 2-3 weeks? (Not sure as I have only ever received 1 infringement around 10 years ago) is a far far greater punishment for the ‘crime’ than for someone who can easily afford it.

No one is suggesting reduced fines or indexing fines to income.

Well I did…and you sort of have too.

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22
Tooks 1:39 pm
22 Feb 12
#

buzz819 said :

Ummm… There is already a chance for them to write into the ACT Chief Police Officer to ask for an extension to pay for the ticket, to which they normally get 6 – 9 months to pay it off?

What more do they want??

This. Getting an extension is dead easy. Of course you could avoid fines by not driving like an idiot, but I guess that’s not a realistic approach for some.

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23
Thumper 1:41 pm
22 Feb 12
#

Soapboxes are all well and good, but remember just how good you’ve got it before you go denouncing those less fortunate

Being less fortunate makes you drive through red lights and ignore posted speed limits?

Well f*** me with a frozen stoat.

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24
rhino 1:50 pm
22 Feb 12
#

I’m surprised by this announcement by the greens. I agree with them for the only time ever that the fines are a bit unfair. If you are rich, you just wave your credit card and continue driving without a care in the world. Whereas if you are poor, the fine is the same amount and it has a much bigger negative effect on their lives. Also, if you are rich, you just pay some lawyer to help you out. I guess to some extent there is no way around some people being poor and disadvantaged in almost every way, but considering the fines are an artificial government planned system, there is room for them to be adjusted in some way based on income perhaps.

Even if you lose your licence as a rich person, it’s not a big problem because you either have a limo driver or a taxi or you might live in an apartment walking distance from your office. Poor people work nights and live out in the sticks where there is fairly poor public transport and often do jobs that require them to drive around and often have kids that they need to drop off at school etc. If you’re rich, you are generally less reliant on driving yourself around quite so much.

So the system is a bit biased in that it costs such a large pencentage of the income of the poor people and is something they need more. I find the same is true of car registration. Only the poor people ever get less than 1 year of rego at a time, yet that ends up costing them significantly more. So the wealthier people actually pay less rego than the poorer people who can’t afford it. The penalty for getting 3 months rego should be less

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25
Me no fry 1:59 pm
22 Feb 12
#

Thumper said :

Soapboxes are all well and good, but remember just how good you’ve got it before you go denouncing those less fortunate

Being less fortunate makes you drive through red lights and ignore posted speed limits?

Well f*** me with a frozen stoat.

What you do in your spare time is your own business.

Give people the benefit of the doubt. Some people may have difficulty in paying a penalty due to personal financial circumstances. It doesn’t mean they’re trying to get away with it, just because they’re poor.

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26
harvyk1 2:21 pm
22 Feb 12
#

There is nothing I love more than the high and mighty on their soapboxes.

Are you all telling me that you all never go 1km/h over the posted speed limit, you always do 40km/h at roadworks, and that when switching from a 100km/h zone to an 80km/h zone you are doing exactly 80km/h as you reach the sign and never let the speed go down simply by coasting your car?

Furthermore are you all also telling me that you never run orange lights \ use a mobile phone whilst driving? Finally are you all also telling me that you never tailgate or do anything else which is likely to count as dangerous driving (eg swerving between lanes?).

Because only if you can stand here with your hand on your heart and state you’ve never done any of the above since the dawn of time do you deserve that place on the soapbox judging others bad driving.

However knowing how bad most Canberra drivers are when it comes to doing these things above, I can’t believe that all soapbox responses are from people with perfect driving records?

All that is being said is that someone who is unlucky enough to be caught doing something which most Canberrans I would guess do most days, intentionally or otherwise, is not put in a position of financial hardship. I don’t see this as a blank slate for the less well off to drive like f-n idiots, it’s just in the event that you are in such a position, you have an amount of time to pay up which will not cause undue hardship compared to someone who is more well off.

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27
I-filed 2:22 pm
22 Feb 12
#

In the spirit of the Greens’ “special swimming arrangements”, how about putting aside “special time” for lower socio-economic people so they can driver their unregistered cars fast with no risk of a fine? They need to get to work – late – or to Centrelink, so how about setting aside 9 to 11 am and then some time in the evening so they can get to the pub? Or perhaps (pricier, but the Greens really don’t care about the cost of social inclusion) special transit lanes on all roads for disadvantaged drivers where they can speed all they like in unregistered cars?
Administratively, though, wouldn’t it be cheaper if Amanda Bresnan put forward a simple exemption from fines? Easily administered! A prominent “Not to be booked” label on the car, and a similar card for the driver (who may well not possess a driver’s licence and be vulnerable to further disadvantage). Police should be instructed not to book low-income people.

Amanda Bresnan should actually be encouraging people to take the bus, shouldn’t she?

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28
johnboy 2:22 pm
22 Feb 12
#

I can tell you I haven’t been caught since 1997.

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29
devils_advocate 2:32 pm
22 Feb 12
#

johnboy said :

At the same time the idea that if you’re rich you can drive as badly as you like without much consequence does seem problematic too.

(Although isn’t that a case for balancing demerits with fines?)

That’s a flawed argument. The idea of punishment and deterrence is that it falls equally on everybody. The guy driving a porsche cayenne at 81 kph in an 80 zone is no more dangerous than the guy in the old nissan patrol. In fact the cayenne probably stops better and has active stablility control so is safer. Why should the richer guy have to pay a higher fine for the same conduct?

Arguments based on some supposed indifference to the law based on not worrying about the cash fine is, as you point out, flawed on the basis that they incur demerit points. But is no more unfair than the fact that a 60kg 5 ft male going to prison faces a far different experience than a 120kg/6ft2 male.

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30
Tooks 2:44 pm
22 Feb 12
#

Are you all telling me that you all never go 1km/h over the posted speed limit

No one gets fined for doing 1kmh over the limit. Generally you’d have going at least 10% over.

you always do 40km/h at roadworks, and that when switching from a 100km/h zone to an 80km/h zone you are doing exactly 80km/h as you reach the sign and never let the speed go down simply by coasting your car?

I don’t do it in front of a police car or speed camera.

Furthermore are you all also telling me that you never run orange lights

You’re allowed to run orange lights if it isn’t safe to stop.

use a mobile phone whilst driving?

Quite often, with one of those cheap (which anyone could afford) bluetooth sets.

Finally are you all also telling me that you never tailgate or do anything else which is likely to count as dangerous driving (eg swerving between lanes?).

Never.

you have an amount of time to pay up which will not cause undue hardship compared to someone who is more well off.

We already have such a system – you simply write in and ask for an extension, which will be granted (when I was younger and poorer, I got two extensions for the same parking ticket, which gave me extra months to pay).

Don’t make excuses for people. Everyone – rich and poor – knows the road rules. Everyone knows if you speed or engage in any of the other behaviours you mentioned, you risk a hefty fine. If you are less capable of paying fines, then adjust your driving style so you don’t get them.

If you can afford to run a car in the first place, then you can afford to pay fines associated with shit driving.

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