• Maurice Williamson

Reported offences for driving while disqualified in the first three months of the new driver licensing regime were down 18.4 percent on the same period last year, Transport Minister Maurice Williamson said today.

"These figures show the tough new laws where disqualified drivers lose their cars for 28 days are working and getting these serious traffic offenders off the roads," said Mr Williamson.

For the three months of May, June and July, 1998, 3270 offences for driving while disqualified were reported, while the figure for the same three month period this year fell to 2666.

"Some of these people have had more than one car impounded. They can clearly afford to keep buying another car, or have friends who keep lending them cars."

"Sooner or later, and I accept some people learn more slowly than others, these people will learn that traffic laws apply to everyone and if you keep offending, you'll keep losing your car."

Mr Williamson referred to research that showed impounding vehicles did act as a major deterrent.

"Recent Californian research showed a 38 percent reduction in crashes involving repeat offenders as a result of a new vehicle impoundment regime. The study also shows a 34 percent drop in convictions for driving while disqualified or being unlicensed by offenders who had their car impounded."

Police National Road Safety Manager Neil Gyde said the new regime was working and there was clear evidence that serious and repeat offenders were being caught.

Mr Gyde said the new powers gave traffic enforcement some much needed teeth. "Every criminal offence involves three things - skill, motive and opportunity. By enabling us to take an offender's vehicle off them at the roadside, these new penalties have an immediate impact on the opportunity factor."

"The fact that some tow truck firms are telling us that a number of cars have been seized from the same person is clear evidence we are catching these drivers, prosecuting them and impounding their vehicle," said Mr Gyde.

Since the new regime began on May 3, more than 3500 vehicles have been impounded, the vast majority of which have been for driving while disqualified.