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Disqualified Drivers Down - 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.

ENDS


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