How to deal with outstanding traffic fines

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It’s clear that this government has no imagination when it comes to collecting what is owed to it. I am, of course, referring to those people who have outstanding traffic fines.

If some of these people had a little business experience and it was their money, you can bet it would be collected.

Two minutes after I became justice minister, this would be the new law: persons who have outstanding traffic fines have 60 days to pay them or make arrangements to have them repaid. Otherwise, a list will be prepared and forwarded to all car dealerships indicating that the people on the list are not eligible to own a vehicle. Furthermore, the list is made public and all persons selling vehicles to other persons must verify that the person’s name is not on the list.

First offence is a $5,000 fine.

Second offence is a $10,000 fine.

Third offence will be a $10,000 fine and 60 days in jail.

Additionally, any person lending their vehicle to another person must check the list to see if the person to whom they are lending the vehicle is not on the list. Failure to check the list will result in the same fines and jail time as above.

Now, I challenge anyone to tell me how these people can continue to rack up fines unless they steal vehicles.

Finally, the issue of dealing with drivers who do not have insurance is equally simple. Once a person has insurance, it becomes the insurance company’s responsibility to ensure that as long as that person has licence plates, they have insurance. If the insured cancels, they must return their licence plates to the insurance carrier or provide proof that they are not with another carrier. Failure to do so immediately and the police are advised.

In 1991 in Germany, I was involved in accident in which the driver had no insurance. Under German law, the insurance company was responsible until the plates were returned. They paid through the nose. I can’t think of a better incentive for them to prevent it from happening again.

This government has no imagination.

Tom Badcock

St. John’s

Geographic location: Germany

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  • Liberterian
    February 06, 2014 - 12:29

    Perhaps you should move to 1940's Germany. What you've described is dictatorship contravening all law of the land to date. It must be nice to be a rich white guy that you can go around and dictate everyone else's "freedom". Ever think that maybe some of the fines shouldn't exist in the first place? They also have the auto-bahn in Germany, so you going to put that in place here and pardon traffic fines? Give me a break. Go live somewhere else if you hate liberty.

  • sc
    February 06, 2014 - 11:10

    Jack, you've hit the nail on the head -- so to speak. First, you suggest that the government must want to deal with this problem and I'm not convinced that it does. IF it did, the solution you propose seems like a good idea. The only problem is that it's been employed elsewhere in Canada and that will automatically make our provincial government reluctant to adopt it. Maybe there should be legislation introduced that people involved in an accident with an uninsured /suspended driver should be able to collect compensation from the government. (I understand that at present there is no compensation of any sort available but I may be mistaken). Maybe that would encourage our politicians to take this problem seriously. What I find disturbing is that many people see this as purely a financial matter. It's more than that. It's about upholding the law and making those who break it face the consequences. By failing to collect these outstanding fines the government is effectively saying that it's perfectly okay not to follow the law and that a person doesn't need to pay fines if he or she doesn't want to. What, I ask, is the point of imposing fines if there's no consequences of not paying them? Is the government's lackadaisical approach to collecting fines supposed to convince people that they ought to pay what's owed 'or else'? That doesn't seem to be working very well.

  • Thomas
    February 06, 2014 - 09:35

    Point one - the cost associated with recouping the monies owed will far exceed the monies that will be recouped. The second point would be a law that enforces the fact that when ever you sell a car, purchase a new or another car your plates go with you. If you owe fines and are trying to get a set of plates you have 2 choices - pay the fine or steal a set.

    • Jack
      February 06, 2014 - 11:08

      Thomas, while the plates go with you after you purchase a new vehicle and sell or trade a previous one, you can't transfer them to your new vehicle like you can in other provinces like Nova Scotia. In the case of Nova Scotia, when their government implemented radical changes to their vehicle registration and license plate laws in 1988, one of these provisions was that the license plate was no longer linked to the vehicle, but linked to an owner. When then owner sold his/her vehicle and purchases a new one, he/she will transfer that license plate to the new vehicle and then change the registration information for it. Due to this system change, if a person trying to renew his/her motor vehicle registration needed to renew a motor vehicle permit or access other government services, but has outstanding fines, Nova Scotia Government departments and agencies have a right to deny this service until fines are paid or a payment plan is arranged. Perhaps the Newfoundland and Labrador Government should start adopting the Nova Scotia vehicle registration system as well.

  • Joe
    February 06, 2014 - 08:31

    Thankfully business can't make laws. They can only buy politicians to make them for them. So these business solutions(?) have nothing to do with running a business. The insurance companies would not even tell MRD when a policy holder cancelled their policy., so good luck with that one. See it's really not that simple. It's like trying to get elected to City Council with cockeyed ideas.

  • Gekko
    February 06, 2014 - 07:58

    The people going around with thousands of dollars in unpaid fines are not out buying cars from dealerships, which already have a responsibility to make sure that no car goes off their lot without being registered and insured to a licensed driver, and people with outstanding fines cannot get those things. Private sellers have this obligation as well, but they are much more under the radar. You are not really suggesting anything that the government isn't already doing. It would appear that government has looked at this from a cost/benefit analysis and determined that the bureaucracy involved in really going after these fines is simply not worth the possible returns, especially when most of these people are on welfare and cant afford to pay up anyway.

  • gerry
    February 06, 2014 - 07:53

    Plain and simple Mr. Badcock, "your nuts", bring down a law that the vehicle is confiscated and after 60 days, it's sold, with the money going toward the amount owed...

  • Jack
    February 06, 2014 - 05:59

    If the Newfoundland and Labrador Government wants to deal with the outstanding fine problem, one key strategy to implement is changing the vehicle registration system to the Nova Scotia style. In case you don't know, unlike Newfoundland and Labrador where license plates are linked to a vehicle, license plates are linked to the owner in Nova Scotia. In other words, when a person purchases a new vehicle and sells a previous one, the license plate is transferred to the new vehicle; however, the owner has to get his/her registration changed to reflect this new vehicle. Since motor vehicle registrations are linked to the owner in Nova Scotia, if a person has outstanding fines and has no repayment arrangement, Service Nova Scotia and other Nova Scotia Government department or agency reserve a right to deny a person any motor vehicle related registrations, hunting permits, deed registrations, or other government services except for MSI (due to Canada Health Act regulations).