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Means-tested traffic fines bit of a tricky solution, minister says

JUSTICE Minister Giorgos Savvides on Friday called on the House transport committee to speedily move forward with its article-by-article discussion of the package of seven bills seeking to impose heavier fines for traffic offences, expressing his concerns for the surge in road deaths in recent weeks.

“We believe that an increase in penalties constitutes an important, but not unique, tool in the battle for compliance with the road safety rules and for a reduction in traffic accidents,” Savvides said.

The discussion of the bills, which the committee began last week, comes after a particularly bad year for fatalities, as Cyprus saw some 30 road deaths so far this year, six of which happened over only 11 days in August.

After police issued a call last month for higher deterrents, all House transport committee lawmakers backed the view that fines needed to be higher, but views vary on how the higher penalties should be implemented, with some calling for means-tested penalties.

Savvides acknowledged that some legal systems have introduced such a provision, whereby penalties are calculated according to income but said that “the introduction of such a system requires a lot of research, both in terms of its philosophy and its practical implementation.”

The issue of the protection of personal data also arises with such a move, Savvides said, as the height of a fine would depend on a person’s income, which is personal information.

If such a means-tested justice approach were to be promoted, Savvides said that the possibility of its application to all criminal offences and not just traffic offences, would need to be studied.

The minister nevertheless highlighted that the revision of current penalties “has become even more urgent due to the recent surge in fatal crashes and generally due to driver delinquency.”

Savvides called on the committee to continue its article-by-article discussion of the bills which will serve to increase current penalties, “without the day which will inevitably arise from a potential insistence on a radical revision of the way penalties are implemented.”

After the completion of the present discussion, Savvides said that Justice Ministry will welcome any member of the committee to raise the issue of a sweeping change in fine implementation if this is evaluated as a desirable measure.


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