Fine policy working

17/07/2014

National’s policy of requiring fine-dodgers to pay-up or be banned from driving is working:

The Ministry of Justice has collected $4.6 million in just four months from people who risked being banned from driving under a tough new enforcement tool for overdue fines, Courts Minister Chester Borrows says.

Driver Licence Stop Orders (DLSOs) can be placed on anyone who fails to pay traffic-related fines imposed by a Court, Police or local government authority – or reparations imposed by a Court for traffic-related offences.

Since DLSOs were launched on 17 February, the Ministry of Justice has issued 87 warning letters, and served only one DLSO – and that was subsequently lifted after the person set up arrangements to repay their fines.

“This initiative was designed to send a compelling message to offenders who’ve racked up overdue traffic debts,” says Mr Borrows.

“It seems the threat of losing their driver licence has motivated many of those with fines owing who have, until now, ignored their obligation to pay up or enter an arrangement to pay the debt off over time.”

DLSOs target the most difficult to reach people – a hard core of around 25,000 drivers who each owed fines and reparation totalling more than $2,000, and had ignored repeated reminders to pay it off.

Of that group, over 10,800 have contacted the Ministry of Justice in the past three months, to make repayments totalling $4.6 million.

“The fact we’ve recovered $4.6 million from a stubborn group, who had ignored all previous reminders about their obligations, without having to take anyone’s licence away shows how effective the DLSO sanction is.”

While those with the largest outstanding fines have been targeted first, the Ministry of Justice will step up the issuing of DLSO warning letters over the next six months to others.

“We are focussing on the worst offenders first, but the message is clear. If you have an outstanding fine we will catch up with you,” says Mr Borrows.

“Anyone with an overdue fine should seize this opportunity to contact the Ministry of Justice and make a payment arrangement if they wish to hold on to their licence.”

Background

The Government is committed to ensuring that fines remain a credible sanction.

The Courts and Criminal Matters Bill, passed by Parliament in July 2011, gave the Ministry of Justice wider powers to collect fines – including the ability to issue Driver Licence Stop Orders (DLSOs).

DLSO’s help send the message that ignoring fines is not an acceptable, or sensible, option.

DLSOs are initiated with a warning letter giving people 14 days’ notice to either pay up or set up a payment plan. Those notified will get one more reminder, and if they ignore that, a bailiff will be sent to seize their driver licence. Licences will remain suspended until the fine is paid in full, or payment arrangements are in place.

People who have their licence suspended due to unpaid fines or reparation will not be able to apply for a limited licence. And if a person flouts the law by driving while suspended, they risk being charged with that offence, and having the vehicle they were driving impounded for 28 days.

DLSOs feature as part of a new media campaign (television, radio, print, online) encouraging people to pay their fines. It began on 2 February 2014 and has run regularly since then.

 For too long fine-dodgers just kept ignoring their obligations and many amassed more fines.

The threat of losing their licences is  tough but fair and it’s working.

 

Earlier this year we introduced new Drivers Licence Stop Orders, to let the Court take away the drivers licence of people who refuse to pay their traffic fines.  From a target group of 25,000 fine dodgers, in the first four months 10,800 people have coughed up $4.6 million - a great result!


Mr Fines

02/02/2014

Consequences for people who ignore reparation payments or fines for traffic offences are going to be tougher from next month:

People with unpaid fines or reparation for traffic-related offences could find themselves barred from driving under powerful new sanctions which come into effect this month, Courts Minister Chester Borrows says.

From Monday 17 February ‘Driver Licence Stop Orders’ (DLSOs) can be imposed on anyone who fails to pay traffic-related fines imposed on them by a Court, Police or a local government authority – or a reparation order imposed on them by a Court – for a traffic-related offence.

Mr Borrows says DLSOs are a powerful new sanction, which will initially be targeted at repeat offenders who’ve racked up big overdue debts.

“There are around 136,000 people who between them owe $48 million in traffic related fines and are making no attempt to pay,” Mr Borrows says.

“A lot of them have chosen to ignore repeated reminders and if they remain uncooperative they’ll pay for it with their driver licence.

“We will focus initially on the worst offenders, but anyone with an overdue fine should seize this opportunity to contact the Ministry of Justice and make a payment arrangement if they wish to hold on to their licence.”

The Ministry of Justice, which will hand out the new sanction, will start by giving people with large amounts owing 14 days’ notice to either pay up or set up a payment plan.  They’ll get one more reminder, and if they’re not compliant a bailiff will be sent to seize their driver licence.

Their licences will remain suspended until the fine is paid in full, or payment arrangements are in place.  And if they’re caught driving while their licence is suspended they could be prosecuted, and have the vehicle they were driving seized for 28 days.

“Of course the aim here isn’t to suspend lots of driver licences,” Mr Borrows says.

“The aim is to get people who’ve been ignoring the authority of law to take things seriously, and to pay their traffic-related fines.

“We’ve made big inroads in recent years in getting people to pay fines – thanks to sanctions such as the powers to seize property, stop people from travelling overseas, stop people making purchases on credit, and directly deducting money from wages. 

“Those measures have seen the total level of unpaid fines and reparation fall by nearly a quarter of a billion dollars since 2009.  But that still leaves $554.4 million in unpaid fines – the vast majority of offenders (96%) owing money for vehicle-related offences.  In that context, the ability to bar people from driving is a powerful new tool to enforce penalties, because driving matters to most people with fines.”

A new television, radio and online advertising campaign will launch on Sunday 2 February, letting people know about DLSOs and other enforcement powers, and encouraging those with unpaid traffic fines or reparation to arrange payment.


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