The Government has today revealed that the Police will be given greater enforcement power when dealing with fleeing drivers.
Earlier this week, New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster announced the Police had plans “to bring more balance” to its fleeing driver policy.
With the changes in motion, drivers can now be disqualified for longer, have their vehicle taken away for good, or the vehicle owner could have their car impounded if they choose not to help the Police “track down” the driver of a fleeing vehicle.
“These changes will help Police deal with the sort of behaviour that can lead to death and injury on our roads. It’s never okay to flee from Police and put others’ lives at risk,” Police Minister Chris Hipkins said.
“Police have told us these changes will help discourage people from fleeing, because they’re now likely to lose the vehicle for longer or for good.
“It also removes the protection currently afforded to the owners of the vehicle if the offender is driving someone else’s car.”
The changes build on the Criminal Activity Intervention Legislation Bill, which is currently before the Select Committee.
The first of the changes includes Police increasing the maximum driver licence disqualification period for a second offence of failing to stop or remain stopped, from 12 months to between 12 months and 24 months.
Secondly, the Sentencing Act 2002 will also be amended so that a vehicle can be forfeited on conviction for failing to stop and permanently removed from an offender.
Finally, the Police will also be able to impound a vehicle for 28 days if the owner fails, refuses, or provides false or misleading information about the identity of a driver from a fleeing driver event.
While the Government admits no law can stop an offender from fleeing, it hopes the harsher punishments like losing their car for good will deter more drivers from doing so.
“Put simply, if you choose to flee from Police then be prepared to lose your car,” Justice Minister Kiri Allan said.
“There is a safeguard for law-abiding vehicle owners who can prove their car was stolen at the time it was impounded – appeal provisions will be built in so that the vehicle can be released.”