Judge slams new road safety laws

28th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

28 February 2005, BRUSSELS - A Belgian judge has seriously criticised new road safety laws that came into force last March.

28 February 2005

BRUSSELS - A Belgian judge has seriously criticised new road safety laws that came into force last March.

Thierry Papart, from the police tribunal in Liege, warned a year ago the laws would be incoherent and problematic.

According to La Libre Belgique, his predictions appear to have been vindicated.

Speaking to the newspaper, the judge said the past year had been a turbulent one for road safety.

One month after the entry into force of the new law, the government had taken a step back by "declassifying" two serious offences, he said.

Then there were a series of decisions such as a ban on cruise control in certain areas, which is very hard to control.

The arbitration court also had a very harsh interpretation of the new laws, in particular with regard to the immediate seizure of driving licences.

Licences should only be removed immediately if other road users are at risk, but not as a sanction.

According to Papart, further confusion was caused by provisions on the paying of fines being struck down before they even entered into force.

An alternative plan is currently being drafted which abolishes the compulsory payment of a deposit and allows for a quicker appeal process.

The scale of penalties was also declared un-constitutional by the arbitration court, leaving a number of cases hanging in the balance while the legal problem is sorted out.

Papart said the gulf between people's economic wealth and the level of fines had grown enormously and as a result he was only giving out minimum penalties except in the most serious cases.

People simply did not understand the law, he said.

We need to take time to formulate a more coherent and balanced law and inform people about it, Papart added.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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