Public not keen on planned harsher penalties for speeding

Latvia plans to introduce the confiscation of driver's licenses if the permitted speed is exceeded by at least 30 kilometers per hour and impose a fine for speeding up to 10 kilometers per hour. After such a police plan was supported by the Saeima, more than 12 thousand residents have signed against it on the initiative portal “” within days, Latvian Radio reported Monday, December 4.

Currently, driver's license for driving too fast can be seized if the permitted speed is exceeded by at least 51 kilometers per hour. State police want to lower that to 31 kilometers per hour. 

Residents who have collected more than 12 thousand signatures on the portal “” oppose the plan.

The initiative was explained by its author, Modris Skudra: "When you do an overtaking maneuver, there's been all sorts of things. Then when, for example, a car in your driving lane turns towards you from a small road, you might need to speed up. Should not be punished for doing so by immediately taking the license away. All penalties must be very proportionate and thoughtful. When the speed limit changes from 70 to 50, for example, the sign can't always be seen when it is blocked by a truck or something else. And if the police stand in front of it, yor license is taken away. It's a bit of an absurd situation."

How do drivers addressed in Riga look at the idea of harsher penalties?

“That's absolute nonsense. Would like to see those who want to make those decisions, the way they drive themselves [..],“ Ģirts from Kandava said.

“You have to watch. Sometimes it happens that you inadvertently violate those 30. I myself have inadvertently violated. So take away the license... and there are no other violations in a decade? I think it's not right,“ said Inguna from Rīga.

“There are not many places to exceed 30 during this time. But taking away the license? I don't know, maybe in the city, where [50 is the speed limit,” said Jānis.

Road safety expert Jānis Vanks believes the lack of police on the roads is very palpable, so he believes the size of sentences doesn't matter. "The main effect could only come if it is the overall work of everything, both controlling authorities and society as such. Now we can impose even bigger penalties, but if there isn't anyone who control them, then the question is whether it really will produce some kind of desired effect.

"Conversely, if we could somehow schedule this issue in the state budget so that the number of police officers is decent so that you can really watch or control whether to look after traffic safety on our roads in some way, I would assume that effect to be greater without even raising any penalties," Vanks commented.

A week from now, the Legal Affairs Committee will look at the plan. Its head Andrejs Judins from New Unity told Latvian Radio that the Committee is unlikely to support the police initiative.

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