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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Automotive. Speed ​​camera measurement error included in fines. ROP proposal

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In the case of imposing fines for minor speeding violations, the permissible measurement error of speed cameras and indicators in cars should be taken into account, which can be up to 3 km/h – believes the Ombudsman, Marcin Wiącek. He asked the Ministry of the Interior and Administration to change the regulations.

“The law – which, in principle, justifies the imposition of sanctions for a traffic offense – should also contain guarantees that doubts will be resolved in favor of the accused, already at the moment when the authority discloses a potential offense” – emphasized Wiącek.

Measurement error margin

According to the Defender, taking into account the “margin of measurement error of laser devices” should mean that exceeding the speed limit in the range of 4 km/h should be punished with fines. Meanwhile, in the current ticket tariff, which is the basis for the fines, the lowest speeding violations are defined as “up to 10 km/h”, i.e. – as indicated by the Ombudsman – this means exceeding from 1 to 10 km/h.

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Meanwhile, as the Ombudsman pointed out in his letter to the head of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, Mariusz Kamiński, published on the website of the Commissioner’s Office, the regulation of the Minister of Economy of 2014 on the requirements to be met by devices for measuring the speed of vehicles in road traffic control officially states that speed measuring devices outside the laboratory, they can show an error of 3 km/h to a minus or a plus.

“For example, if a laser meter, measuring in a place where the permitted speed is 50 km/h, reveals a vehicle speed of 53 km/h, taking into account non-laboratory measurement conditions and taking into account the measurement error, it can be read so that the driver was driving at the speed limit and did not commit an offence.

As he admits – of course in this case a different interpretation is also possible – assuming that “the actual speed was 56 km/h”. “The principle of settling doubts in favor of the accused, which is also in force in the law of petty offences, requires the adoption of a version that is more favorable to the accused” – reminded the Defender.

At the same time, the Ombudsman noted that these “observations refer not only to the boundary situation between committing an offense and not committing it, but also to the assessment of its severity” – for example, they may also be related to the condition of stopping a driving license for exceeding the speed by 50 km/h in the field built-up. As he pointed out in such cases, the reading from the device indicating a speed limit of 51 km/h would not, of course, exempt from liability for a traffic offense, but it would affect the issue of “temporary loss of driving privileges”.

Wiącek stipulated that “the legitimacy of being held responsible for exceeding the speed limit by, for example, 5 or 10 km/h cannot be underestimated.” “Even such a small excess can cause a traffic hazard” – he assessed.

However, he added, “in the case of drivers who try to keep the speed limit, it must not be forgotten that car indicators also have a similar margin of error.” “The punishment for exceeding the de facto speed limit of 1 to 10 km/h, currently introduced in the table of tariffs, therefore raises justified objections” – he wrote.

Taking into account the error in favor of the accused

Therefore – in the opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights – an expected solution that would clearly have a positive impact on the rights and freedoms of citizens would be to assume that the measurement indicated by the device is subject to a certain margin of error, which in turn would condition the imposition of sanctions on the basis of the “accepted measurement”, which would be the result of reducing the measurement indicated by the device o the maximum margin of measurement error. As he pointed out, such a solution applies, for example, in France.

In Poland, however, there is currently only the option of refusing to accept a mandate in such situations. “However, the penalty imposed by the court may be much more severe than the fine. And the economics of the justice system are negatively affected by the initiation of time-consuming and costly court proceedings, in which the issue of the measurement error of the device is to be settled with the help of an expert’s opinion” – assessed the Defender.

“The Commissioner for Human Rights therefore submits to the minister’s consideration the initiation of legislative work aimed at adopting a regulation sanctioning the inclusion of a measurement error in ‘border’ situations in favor of the accused and changing the scope of the new tariff” – reads Wiącek’s letter to the head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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