Introduction of Large Fines for Street Racers is Postponed - Government Did Not Support the Bill on Punishment for Street Races. Commented by Elena Batura, Project Manager of S&K Vertical, for Izvestia

1 june 2018

           Introduction of Large Fines for Street Racers is Postponed - Government Did Not Support the Bill on Punishment for Street Races. It was proposed to punish their organizers and participants with fines up to 1mln. roubles, as well as with driver's licence revocation and imprisonment. However, in its official review (available on Izvestia) the Cabinet has severely criticized the document for divergence and vague definitions. Experts specify that it is necessary to struggle with the very phenomenon, but they split on opinions concerning the measures required for it.

            A set of amendments on punishment for street races was prepared in the State Duma in December 2017 following some headline-making incidents. Actions of reckless drivers often lead to severe consequences, but the laws do not stipulate any considerable sanctions for them, the explanatory note to the document said. Therefore, the authors suggested to introduce new articles to the Criminal and the Administrative Codes - "Unlawful automobile or motorcycle competitions" (Art. 12.38 of the Administrative Offenses Code and Art. 264.2 of the Criminal Code). Gravity of punishment depended on whether a street racer was detained for the first time, whether he/she complied with the lawful request of a police officer, and whether property and health of citizens were damaged. According to the bill, fines for similar offences should constitute from 50k up to 1 mln. roubles, and be accompanied by driver's license revocation. Criminal liability was also established: for organizers of races - up to two years of imprisonment, for their participants - up to one year.

            However, the Government of the RF did not support the bill in the submitted version, the official review said. In particular, the Cabinet considered the wording of a new type of offence insufficiently defined. The Criminal Code article text should have been so clear that each person could precisely foresee the consequences of his/her actions, the government specified. In addition, the review noted that under some clauses in the bill the punishment had been milder than provided by the existing standards. So, it was suggested to establish a fine from 500 roubles up to 2k roubles for driving "in places not intended for traffic", while Part 2 of Art. 12.15 of the Administrative Offenses Code establishes the fine in the amount of 2000 roubles for driving along the bicycle lanes, foot paths and pavements in violation of the driving regulations.

            The document will be marked up taking into account the stated remarks, Anatoly Vyborny, Safety Committee Deputy Head of the Duma, Working Group Director for preparation of suggestions on punishment for automobile disorderly conduct, declared.

            - We see the community demand for introducing a punishment for street racers and parking offenders, and we understand that such problem exists, and it is necessary to solve it, the deputy said.

The suggested amendments are highly actual, Elena Batura, Project Manager of S&K Vertikal Law Firm, believes, who does not agree with the negative assessment of the Cabinet.

            According to her words, headline-making accidents with participation of the so-called gilded youth happen because street racers strive for violating regulations in an emphatic manner.

            "And if it does not lead to severe consequences, they will end with imposition of the small fine on the offender at most, and subsequently it does not prevent him/her from repeating such mischievous tricks later on, without reckoning with anyone," Elena Batura explained.

            Shota Gorgadze, member of the Public Chamber of the RF, emphasized that street racing is a rather expensive pleasure wealthy people enjoy. "They laugh when they are being written out fines for some thousands of roubles. Meanwhile, if such person yields to courage, the car becomes an uncontrolled murder weapon. Mere increase in fines will not change anything here. May be, if to add any correctional labour at the least and make them sweep the streets, they will understand something at last," the expert said to Izvestia.

            Attorney Andrey Radko does not agree with him. He believes that the effective standards are sufficient, and abundance of similar articles in the Administrative Offenses Code and the Criminal Code will confuse enforcers and lead to corruption burst. Articles will apply to car owners at traffic officer's discretion, the lawyer fears.

            It is required to concretize the suggested standards and divide offences relating to the traffic and public order, Valery Glazunov, General Director of Glazunov and Semenov Law Company thinks. Otherwise, false interpretations will help the guilty to dodge responsibility, he remarked.

            The movement of street racers has been existing not for the first decade, and will not disappear anywhere by itself, Alexander Kozlov, member of the Public Chamber of the RF, emphasized. In his opinion, offenders should be punished, but for the racers ready to conform to regulations and compete out of the busy city streets, it is required to allocate sites in remote areas.

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