Driver Licence Stop Orders rake in $20 millionJustice Courts
A Government initiative which threatens loss of licence over unpaid fines has brought in an extra $20.4 million since its introduction one year ago, Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced.
Driver Licence Stop Orders (DLSOs) can be placed on anyone who fails to pay traffic-related fines imposed by a Court, Police or local government authority – or reparations imposed by a Court for traffic-related offences.
“Over the last year, nearly 19,500 people who weren't paying their fines off have either done so, or are doing so, due to the threat of losing their licence. As a result an extra $20.4 million of unpaid fines and reparation has been paid,” says Ms Adams.
Ms Adams said only 27 driver licences were currently suspended. A further 11 that were suspended have been lifted as the fines have been resolved.
“The Stop Orders are working as intended. Rather than potentially losing their licence, people are choosing to pay their fines. The aim of DLSO’s was not to take away people’s drivers licences but to ensure that fines remain a credible sanction. DLSO’s help send the message that ignoring fines is not an acceptable or sensible option,” says Ms Adams.
Ms Adams said the amount brought in was up on the forecast annual target of $7 million.
“There has also been a significant response from people owing fines in New Zealand but are now living in Australia in response to us sending them the warning letters. These fines have either been paid in full or have made arrangements,” says Ms Adams.
As of the end of January 2015, nearly 12,000 warning letters had been sent to customers, with about 500 new warning letters being sent out per week.
An additional 1800 people have a DLSO status, but are on-hold. These are usually put on-hold while the person arranges to pay the fines.
The Courts and Criminal Matters Bill, passed by Parliament in July 2011, gave the Ministry of Justice wider powers to collect fines – including the ability to issue Driver Licence Stop Orders (DLSOs).
DLSOs are initiated with a warning letter giving people 14 days’ notice to either pay up or set up a payment plan. Those notified will get one more reminder, and if they ignore that, a bailiff will be sent to serve the suspension, and take their driver licence. Licences will remain suspended until the fine is paid in full, or payment arrangements are in place.
People who have their licence suspended due to unpaid fines or reparation will not be able to apply for a limited licence. And if a person flouts the law by driving while suspended, they risk being charged with that offence, and having the vehicle they were driving impounded for 28 days.