Speeding fines set to increase in Latvia

Speeding drivers are one step closer to heavier penalties after the Latvian parliament on February 1 supported legal changes in the second of three readings.

According to data provided in support of the amendments, in Latvia it's not so much a case of who speeds as who doesn't, with 71% of drivers outside built-up areas exceeding the speed limit. Among European countries, Latvia stands out in most indicators as being a particularly unsafe place for road users.

Road safety indicators including speeding, use of mobile devices while driving, as well as the number of fatalities and serious injuries - are significantly worse in Latvia than in the majority of European Union countries, the authors of the bill said. 

The amendments target what might be called extreme speeders – those far above the legal limit rather than just a few clicks north on the dial.

With the amendments, it is planned to establish that for exceeding the speed limit by 61 to 70 kilometers per hour (km/h) with mopeds, motorcycles, passenger cars and trucks, the full weight of which does not exceed 7.5 tons, a fine from 720 to 960 will be applied to the driver of the vehicle euros (currently - from 360 to 480 euros) and loss of license for nine months (currently - six). 

If the speed limit will be exceeded by 60-70 km/h in a populated area, it is planned to apply a fine from 1,040 to 1,400 euros (currently - from 540 to 680 euros) and to revoke the license from nine to 12 months (currently 12 months). 

In the event that the permitted speed outside of populated areas will be exceeded by 61 to 70 kilometers per hour by a car towing a trailer or a truck with a gross weight of more than 7.5 tons, the driver may be deprived of the right to drive a vehicle for 12 to 18 months (currently applicable prohibition of use for 12 months). For such a speed violation in a populated area, drivers may be deprived of their right to drive a vehicle for 12 to 24 months (currently – the right is revoked for 24 months).   

In cases where the permitted driving speed will be exceeded by more than 70 kilometers per hour, it is planned to apply a fine of 1,400 to 2,000 euros and take away the right to drive for 12 to 36 months. This will apply to all vehicles, regardless of their gross weight. 

In further evidence of the poor road manners often encoutered on Latvian roads, it is also planned to increase the penalty for causing danger to the driver of an overtaking vehicle by increasing speed or changing direction. It is expected that a fine of 55 euros will be applied for this (currently – 40 euros). It is also planned to increase the fine for overtaking at intersections, which is also set to rise from 40 euros to 55 euros.

The amendments also intend to establish that the owner of a vehicle will be immediately penalised if it is recorded that the vehicle is participating in road traffic without having undergone a state technical inspection or holding compulsory civil liability insurance (OCTA). The penalty for such a violation will be applied no more than once in 24 hours. 

Also, the amendments provide that not only drivers of motor vehicles, but also drivers of bicycles and electric scooters will have to carry driver's documents. 

As previously noted, in order for the bill to enter into force, the Saeima must support it in a third and final reading.

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