'No impunity': Unpaid traffic fines to be deducted from wages

'No impunity': Unpaid traffic fines to be deducted from wages

While an "order to pay" system introduced three years ago has resulted in more people paying traffic fines, a small group of offenders continued to ignore these. Measures will now be tightened further to prevent people from simply ignoring the orders.

Although 94% of traffic offenders paid their fines last year, a small group refuses to do so. Since 2020, the public prosecutor can issue a final demand to pay. This final order costs €117.81 – up from the first two warnings of €63 and €76.

More than a million orders have been sent out since their introduction in 2020. In 2022 alone, 537,009 were sent, easing the administrative burden on police judges and leading to a higher percentage of fines paid. Yet 6% of offenders paid no heed to the stronger calls for action, leading to the creation of a forced collection system, with the FPS Justice and FPS Finance linking their databases to facilitate this.

"By now having both the order to pay and the forced collection system, the penalty chain is closed. No impunity for defaulters," a statement from the Justice department read. For a serious traffic offence, perpetrators will still have to face a court.

Confiscating cars and docking salary

The FPS Finance can now claim the fine via taxes or via a bailiff, but also by obliging the offender's employer to pay part of their salary directly into the public treasury by docking their wages. For those without employers, the fine can also be withdrawn from social benefits and rental income. If an offender were to be found in a traffic check, it might even be that their car is confiscated.

Before going so far as to go to an offender's employer or impound their vehicle, another letter of notification will be sent. For people living outside of Belgium but who are fined here (EU offenders), the fine will eventually be transferred to the Member State where the offender lives, allowing the country in question to recover the fine. The amount will go to its state treasury, not to Belgium's.

The offender can still appeal to the police court against the order to pay if they do not agree with the established offence. According to the FPS Justice, this happens in 1.34% of cases.

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