'Pay fines or risk losing your car'

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2014

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The tens of thousands of Kiwis who have failed to pay traffic fines could be banned from driving under strict measures announced by the Government today.

Around 136,000 New Zealanders owe a total of $48 million in traffic-related fines and the Government says many are making no effort to pay.

Courts Minister Chester Borrows will announce today that from February 17 those drivers could be issued with a Driver Licence Stop Order, which would prevent them from driving and could see cars seized for 28 days.

"A lot of [fine dodgers] have chosen to ignore repeated reminders and if they remain unco-operative they'll pay for it with their driver licence."

Borrows said the initial focus would be on the worst offenders but it was a warning to all those who owed money to get it paid quickly.

Those who owe large amounts will have 14 days to pay or to set up a payment plan.

They will receive one warning before having their licence seized, and if they are caught driving while their licence is suspended they could face prosecution and have the vehicle seized for 28 days.

They will not have their licence returned until the fines are paid or arrangements made to pay them.

Borrows said recently imposed sanctions such as the powers to seize properties, stop people from travelling overseas and from making purchases on credit had seen about $250 million in unpaid fines recouped since 2009.

A total of about $554.4m was still owed to the Government, however.

"In that context, the ability to bar people from driving is a powerful new tool to enforce penalties because driving matters to most people."

An advertising campaign to raise people's awareness of the sanctions starts today.

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- Sunday Star Times

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