North's drivers fork out $2.3m in unpaid fines

By Imran Ali

1 comment
The crackdown continues on those who refuse to pay their fines.
The crackdown continues on those who refuse to pay their fines.

Northlanders coughed up more than $2.3 million in unpaid fines over the past two years after the Ministry of Justice threatened to take away their driver licences if they did not pay.

More than 5 per cent of unpaid fines collected nationally was from Northland in the past two years by the Ministry of Justice through driver licence stop orders.

Ministry figures show an extra $43.5 million in unpaid fines was collected nationwide in the two years to January this year through the stop orders. Of that figure, $2.31 million - or 5.3 per cent - was gathered in Northland.

Whangarei District Court collected the highest amount at $1.44 million, followed by Kaikohe ($450,000), Kaitaia ($250,000), and Dargaville ($17,000).

The amount of outstanding fine in Northland as at the end of April last year was $25.2 million.

A Driver Licence Stop Order (DLSO) can be imposed 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. The Courts and Criminal Matters Billgives the ministry wider powers to collect fines, including the ability to issue 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.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said the DLSO had been highly successful in getting those who deliberately avoided or refused to pay their fines to contact district courts to resolve their fine matters.

Over the past two years about 30,000 warning letters had been sent out nationwide which resulted in almost 26,000 people who would have been eligible for suspension pay their fines or make payments towards them through a payment plan.

"Stop Orders are an effective tool this Government has introduced to enforce fines and reparation. In addition, fines can be reported to credit agencies, defaulters can be arrested if trying to travel overseas, and the district courts have full enforcement powers to ensure people pay their fines.

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 their vehicle impounded for 28 days.

- Northern Advocate

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