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More traffic fine leniency

By johnboy - 9 May 2012 18

The Greens are breaking out the bubbly as their efforts to make general society more like high school pass another important milestone.

“The previous system of traffic fine administration was described by the courts as a ‘sledgehammer approach’. There was no flexibility for payments, and failure to pay a parking or traffic fine in time meant a person would automatically lose their license,” said Ms Bresnan.

“There are people in Canberra who are losing their employment, their income and their housing, simply because of late fines.

“The Greens legislation has made significant reforms to the traffic fine system to ensure it is fair and flexible by establishing:

• Options to pay fines through instalments;
• A system of community work and social development programs, which people on low income or with special circumstances can undertake in lieu of payments;
• Options to waive fines in special circumstances;
• Opportunities to provisionally reinstate a person’s license when they are participating in a payment plan (only for licenses suspended for late fines)

“In NSW, a similar system of Work and Personal Development orders has been increasing the amount of revenue the Government is collecting, reducing reoffending, improving the participation of vulnerable people, and engaging more people in drug and alcohol and mental health treatment. These are exactly the type of positive impacts we want here in the ACT.

Sooo, driving is a right now?

People who’ve worked up such vast fines they can’t pay them are the types we want to be sharing the roads with?

I guess so.

What’s Your opinion?


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18 Responses to
More traffic fine leniency
zippyzippy 8:17 am 10 May 12

bigfeet said :

zippyzippy said :

Deref said :

““There are people in Canberra who are losing their employment, their income and their housing, because they choose to ignore their fines.”

I fixed that for you.

Huh. So what do you think about the story of the person above – the carer who had just spent her pension on petrol and was on $350 a week (newstart is less though isn’t it?) when she got the fine? ‘Choosing to ignore’ her fines? Maybe she shouldn’t have paid her rent or bought food for a week?

Perhaps she should have taken the more sensible option which would be “Choosing not to break the law in the first place.”

But that’s like if you lost your license just for a parking infringement, and I said to you ‘well you shouldn’t break the law!’. Meanwhile everyone else is able to enjoy a system that allows them to keep their license and occasionally park illegally. It’s unfair. There is a system of demerit points etc which is supposed to recognise we don’t lose our license instantly for relatively minor things. If you can’t pay a fine in time though, you DO lose your license. If you’re already in struggletown, you’re then totally screwed. Why do that to people?

milkman 8:13 am 10 May 12

bigfeet said :

zippyzippy said :

Deref said :

““There are people in Canberra who are losing their employment, their income and their housing, because they choose to ignore their fines.”

I fixed that for you.

Huh. So what do you think about the story of the person above – the carer who had just spent her pension on petrol and was on $350 a week (newstart is less though isn’t it?) when she got the fine? ‘Choosing to ignore’ her fines? Maybe she shouldn’t have paid her rent or bought food for a week?

Perhaps she should have taken the more sensible option which would be “Choosing not to break the law in the first place.”

It’s not going to happen, any more than people are going to stop taking drugs.

A better approach would be to take a wider view, and implement measures the improve road safety. Looking at the real causes of accidents and focussing on those things wouldd be good, as would assessing ‘black spot’ locations. There are some places where strict speed compliance is necessary (like school zones), and these would be a good place for fixed cameras.

bigfeet 6:54 am 10 May 12

zippyzippy said :

Deref said :

““There are people in Canberra who are losing their employment, their income and their housing, because they choose to ignore their fines.”

I fixed that for you.

Huh. So what do you think about the story of the person above – the carer who had just spent her pension on petrol and was on $350 a week (newstart is less though isn’t it?) when she got the fine? ‘Choosing to ignore’ her fines? Maybe she shouldn’t have paid her rent or bought food for a week?

Perhaps she should have taken the more sensible option which would be “Choosing not to break the law in the first place.”

dvaey 4:12 am 10 May 12

gazket said :

how about a discount for paying fines early say 2 weeks before the due date.

2 weeks before the due date, would be the day the fine was issued. AFAIK, the standard time to pay a fine is 14 days. I seriously wonder how many of those $1800 or $2k fines ever get paid within that timeframe. Given the need for this story, Im guessing very few, which as others point out is hardly a disincentive, knowing you can get a huge fine and simply not pay up. That would probably lead to the driver driving unlicensed and uninsured, which benefits no-one, least of all the community in general.

Also, living on $350/week on a pension, wouldnt you have been better off using your free rail vouchers for the trip? I used a rail voucher many years ago to get to Brisbane, I think the total cost was $6 for the return trip, quite a bit less than your petrol, accomodation and speeding fines, and will get you there quicker.

DrKoresh 10:58 pm 09 May 12

Paying in instalments doesn’t really count as a reduction though, does it? I mean, you’ve still got to cop to the whole lot in the end and I’ll bet that paying it all in one go would be less of a hassle than having to pay it off over a month or so. More so, considering that the majority of folk who pay weekly are on a lower income than those who don’t, one would imagine.

gazket 10:48 pm 09 May 12

how about a discount for paying fines early say 2 weeks before the due date.

Henry82 9:57 pm 09 May 12

spiderinsider said :

I’m also not sure why snarkiness is necessary. The main purpose of the amendments is to let people pay fines in instalments if they can’t afford to pay it in one hit. Who’s losing from that arrangement?.

It’s not really a proper penalty is it? if we keep adding exceptions, we might as well not have fines at all. Just like the point of view i’ve heard many times that “if i lose my license, i’ll just get a work exception”. If everyone thinks they can just get out of it, or get a reduced penalty, it’s not a disincentive to break the law.

spiderinsider 9:31 pm 09 May 12

I’m also not sure why snarkiness is necessary. The main purpose of the amendments is to let people pay fines in instalments if they can’t afford to pay it in one hit. Who’s losing from that arrangement?

The only people who will be able to have their fines waived are “those who have special circumstances (such as disability or homelessness), cannot pay the fine and are unlikely to ever be able to pay the fine, and are not suitable to undertake community work or a social development program” (from the explanatory statement). I’m not sure that there are going to be legions of people falling under this category.

helium 7:59 pm 09 May 12

We could have a fine system that relates to a driver income ? as in some euro countries.

Fines are not an issue for most are relatively low (compared to income), demerit points however are another matter and work well enough.

A tech based solution is to have ZERO fine, IF you agree to have a GPS tracker fitted to your vehicle, monitoring and reporting location and speed and keep it for say 3 months for a minor offence and 12 months for something more serious.

zippyzippy 4:40 pm 09 May 12

Deref said :

““There are people in Canberra who are losing their employment, their income and their housing, because they choose to ignore their fines.”

I fixed that for you.

Huh. So what do you think about the story of the person above – the carer who had just spent her pension on petrol and was on $350 a week (newstart is less though isn’t it?) when she got the fine? ‘Choosing to ignore’ her fines? Maybe she shouldn’t have paid her rent or bought food for a week?

Deref 2:52 pm 09 May 12

““There are people in Canberra who are losing their employment, their income and their housing, because they choose to ignore their fines.”

I fixed that for you.

deejay 2:41 pm 09 May 12

KeenGolfer said :

All this has done is add further options such as community work which I think is a good idea.

However, not so sure about this one:

• Options to waive fines in special circumstances;

What special circumstances would there have to be for having a fine waived completely without any form of restitution such as paying the fine or community work?

I can think of one: What about cases where community service would normally be an option, but due to disability or caring responsibilities, that is not an option? Or, what if the person incurred the fine in the ACT but lives several states away and therefore can’t reasonably attend for community service, and/or the travel/other burdens involved would be unreasonable?

Remember, we’re not automatically talking about major offences here. Many moons ago, before extensions and community service options, I lived in NSW, was a sole parent with a disability, and drove to QLD for my father’s funeral. I was clocked at 64 in a 60 zone and given two weeks to pay. Having just spent my entire pension on petrol, I simply couldn’t pay it. I wrote to the police commissioner and asked if I could just have the demerits and have the fine waived, and was told there was no discretion available. Even $160 (as the fine was then) was crippling to someone on $350 a week.

KeenGolfer 1:54 pm 09 May 12

JonahBologna said :

I don’t know why this post was written in such a snarky way.

Isn’t it good to collect more revenue from traffic law infringers?

Because as dvaey pointed out, there’s always been the option to request an extension of time to pay up to 6 months I think it was. All this has done is add further options such as community work which I think is a good idea.

However, not so sure about this one:

• Options to waive fines in special circumstances;

What special circumstances would there have to be for having a fine waived completely without any form of restitution such as paying the fine or community work?

JonahBologna 1:32 pm 09 May 12

I don’t know why this post was written in such a snarky way.

Isn’t it good to collect more revenue from traffic law infringers?

dvaey 1:22 pm 09 May 12

Its been a while since Ive received a fine, but Im fairly sure the back of the ticket provides information on payment, including how to request an extension for time to pay.

One other thought, is that for a monetary fine, it can affect different people in different ways…
The 19 year old driving daddys car, just asks daddy for the cash to pay the ticket.
The 30 year old single parent with 2 kids, loses their licence or doesnt eat or feed the kids for a month to ensure the ticket is paid.

A better option to this would be to impose community service orders, say 1hr for every km/hr over the limit, so if youre doing 80 in a 60 zone, that is 20hrs community service. No-one could then claim financial hardship and it would be a much more balanced punishment that would affect offenders equally.

Sadly the reason this idea would never take off, is the revenue loss. Speed cameras alone brought in over $11m in 2009, so while it would be a more just, equal punishment system, it would leave a big hole in the budget bottom-line.

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