DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT 7 February 2011 Minister introduces fixed penalties for transport offences Environment Minister Edwin Poots today announced that Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) officers will be able to issue fixed penalties to non-compliant drivers. Mr Poots said: “These new powers will speed up the whole process without tying up the courts in expensive legal proceedings. They will hit non-compliant drivers and operators where it hurts – in the pocket. And of course those who comply with the law won’t be affected.” From 1 February 2011, enforcement officers from the DVA can issue fixed penalties for some offences in respect of cars, lorries, vans, buses and taxis. Depending on the nature of the offence, a driver found to be non compliant with proper requirements can be offered a fixed penalty instead of being prosecuted through the courts. These offences include mechanical defects, overloading, driver’s hours and record keeping, failing to wear a taxi driver’s badge, and failing to display a taxi roof sign. Some of these offences may also attract penalty points. However, if an offender has committed an offence that will take them over the limit for penalty points (ie where they may be disqualified from driving) a fixed penalty cannot be offered and they will be prosecuted in court. The fixed penalties will initially be £30 for a non-endorsable offence and £60 for an endorsable offence. However, it is envisaged that additional legislative powers will be introduced in 2011 to enable offenders to be penalised according to the type and severity of offences. The introduction of fixed penalties is part of a major drive by DVA to change the behaviour of non-compliant drivers and operators. For example, any fixed penalties applied will be taken into account when the Agency is considering whether to suspend or revoke goods vehicle or operator licences where operators are convicted of offences involving the roadworthiness of lorries, speeding, overloading, drivers hours offences or other transport offences. Further information is available at http://www.dvani.gov.uk Notes to editors: 1. Enforcement of licensing, roadworthiness and other legal requirements in respect of goods and passenger carrying vehicles, their operators and drivers is one of DVA’s core business activities. Under current arrangements for road traffic and roadworthiness offences, DVA enforcement officers, unlike police, are unable to issue fixed penalties to offenders. 2. The Road Traffic (NI) Order 2007 (RTO) secured new powers to help aid the enforcement of vehicle related offences. The main benefit of these powers is to simplify the enforcement of offences dealt with by the Driver and Vehicle Agency. 3. Under the new powers secured by the RTO, DVA will be empowered to issue fixed penalty notices in respect of many of the offences they are charged with enforcing. Article 16 and Schedule 2 of the RTO inserts new provisions (and makes various amendments) in part 4 of the Road Traffic Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 so that DVA’s vehicle examiners will be able to offer fixed penalties to offenders instead of prosecuting them in court. It is forecast that this would save time for all concerned in the enforcement process – namely DVA, the courts and also those offenders who would be willing to accept a fixed penalty in lieu of prosecution in court. 4. It is anticipated that additional legislative powers will be in place in 2011 to enable the graduation of offences. In effect, this means that an offender will be penalised according to the type and severity of the offence committed i.e. more serious offences will attract larger fixed penalties. 5. The introduction of fixed penalties is part of a concerted effort by DVA to promote greater compliance by road freight operators. Action taken by enforcement officers will be taken into account in reviewing the status of offender’s freight operators’ licences. Operators accumulating fixed penalties and having defect or prohibition notices issued for defective vehicles, may find that their licence to operate is suspended or revoked altogether. 6. All media enquiries should be directed to the DOE Communications on 028 9054 0003. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
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