Licences to be lost on the spot

The Daily Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2003

Police get power for instant action


NSW police will be given unprecedented powers to automatically suspend the licences of incompetent, careless or reckless drivers.

Police Commissioner Ken Moroney this Friday will delegate his official powers to suspend licences for 14 days to every NSW police officer, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The move comes after revelations last week that an 18-year-old P-plater was allowed to drive home after being clocked doing 175km/h in a 60km/h zone.

Under section 33 of the Road Transport (General) Act, the Commissioner of Police has the power to immediately suspend the licence of a driver deemed to be “incompetent, reckless
or careless”.

Motorists caught drink-driving in the mid to high range automatically lose their licences.
Traffic Commander John Hartley yesterday told The Daily Telegraph the new powers would ensure “motorists committing flagrant, stupid acts will be taken off the road straight away”.

“This problem was identified last week and we have looked at alternative solutions,” Chief Superintendent Hartley said.

Police had no choice but to let the man drive home last Thursday night after issuing him with a court attendance notice.

The man's licence was suspended the next day after police sought immediate action from the Roads and Traffic Authority.

“It is unrealistic to ring the commissioner at 3am to get him to sign a cancellation notice. These new powers will mean the issue can be resolved immediately,” Chf Supt Hartley said.

The new powers will be in place until legislation is changed in Parliament giving police permanent authority to automatically suspend licences.

Chf Supt Hartley said an appeals process was in place for motorists who disagreed with an officer's decision.

Meanwhile, motorists could face tougher penalties under a review of traffic fines and demerit points.

The RTA and the Road Safety Taskforce are calling for public submissions on the effectiveness of current fines and demerit points.
The review also will identify “areas for inclusion within the demerit points scheme based on road safety concerns”.

The Pedestrian Council of Australian and the NRMA yesterday welcomed the review and have called for changes to existing penalties.

“[The review] will address serious anomalies in the current system,” NRMA acting CEO Peter Steele said.

Motorists caught driving in a bus lane attract the same number of demerit points as someone exceeding the speed limit by more than 15km/h.

“Changes need to be made to ensure the system remains effective in reducing the NSW road toll, which is expected to reach more than 500 deaths and 25,000 injuries this year,” Mr Steele said.

PCA chairman Harold Scruby yesterday criticised the current system as an “inconsistent, anomalous farce”.

“The penalties have got to have a sting in their tail,” he said.