Driving Penalties Down by One

Driving Penalties Down by One

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Russian drivers will no longer face fines for the so-called average overspeeding. Finally, numerous complaints and appeals from motorists to the traffic police and courts have had an effect.

The “innovation” to record a violation, consisting of two cameras located on highways several kilometers away from each other, has been effective in Russia for almost seven years. Moreover, sets of three or more cameras were sometimes installed to measure the average speed based on the time taken by the car to move from one camera to the other.

Once it was recorded, drivers got speeding fines ranging from 500 ($6.90) to 5,000 roubles ($69), depending on how much the speed limit was exceeded. Until recently about a thousand roadside cameras were operating in Russia according to this algorithm, but most motorists were not aware of them.

To say that there has been a spirited discussion among drivers about the legality of such fines is to say nothing. Although there have been several attempts in the State Duma to amend the Code of administrative violations, all of them have failed. First of all, the opponents of such “speeding control” motivated their objections by the fact that there was no concept of “average speed” in driving regulations.

“Let us assume that there is a road section of several kilometers,” Petr Shkumatov, Head of the workgroup of the Protecting the Rights of Motorists of All-Russia People’s Front, told the media. “It remains unknown where exactly you violated the traffic rules there. This is why the presumption of innocence came into effect. If there is any doubt, it is always interpreted in favor of the person being prosecuted.”

Drivers received fines, appealed to courts, and usually won in courts on the grounds that there was no particular crime scene. In the end, the courts annulled such decisions.

“This has been going on for quite some time,” said Shkumatov. “We were expecting that the court practice would be consolidated and the fines for speeding would be completely abolished on that basis. Well, this process took many years. Many people went to great lengths and even appealed to the Supreme Court and this contributed to the abolition of the fine.”

Meanwhile, the traffic police did not comment on the reason for not punishing the drivers for this violation. The public learnt that such fines were no longer issued from the response of the Prosecutor-General's Office to Viktor Travin, President of Moscow Collegium for Legal Protection of Motorists, who had complained about the illegality of this practice.

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