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Netherlands: Proposal for Tightening of Fines for Major Traffic Offenses

(Oct. 26, 2011) The Ministry of Security and Justice of the Netherlands submitted a proposal to the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer), the lower house of the States-General (Staten-Generaal, the Parliament), on September 5, 2011, on increasing fines for major traffic offenses, including relevant anti-social behavior. The proposal, also presented on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, calls for a general increase of fine amounts by 15% as of January 1, 2012. The former Cabinet had advocated a 20% increase. (Press Release, Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, Increase of Fine Amounts (Sept. 5, 2011).)

A motion put forward in the lower house by Kees Van der Staaij, a member of the Reformed Political Party, calls upon the government to adopt targeted increases of fines, rather than a general percentage increase. The offenses targeted are major traffic violations, including speeding in residential areas, anti-social behavior in traffic, and recidivism. (Id.) At present, no distinction is made between imposition of fines for speeding in built-up areas, regardless of speed limit; in 2012, an additional fine would be imposed for speeding offenses on roads with a speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour (kph), so that fines would be higher on those roads than the fines for speeding offenses on other roads. For example, exceeding the speed limit by 10 kph within a 30 kph zone would incur a fine not of €54 (about US$75) but of €93 (about US$129). (Id.)

For anti-social offenses, in particular those that involve intent – e.g., driving a car when one's license has been revoked for failure to pay a traffic fine or failure to yield to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings – along with those that undermine the competent authority in public spaces (e.g., ignoring stop signs), the fine would increase by about €140 (about US$195) per offense, according to the government proposal. (Id.)

The fine amounts will be adjusted to the consumer price index, in conformity with the usual practice. A list of all the offenses and the corresponding new fine amounts will be part of an amendment decision to be issued later in the fall. The increases in fine amounts that are determined under criminal law are to be effected by adjusting the Public Prosecution Guidelines. (Id.)