ABU DHABI // Motorists who have committed certain traffic offences can now pay to get their confiscated vehicles back early. Col Hamad Adil al Shamsi, the head of the Abu Dhabi Police traffic and patrols department, said that under legislation that came into effect yesterday, first-time offenders would pay Dh100 per day of confiscation, while second-time offenders would have to pay Dh200. For third-time offenders, however, there would be no option: the car would be confiscated.
Some motoring offences were excluded from the new rule, he said, and would still result in automatic confiscation. He refused to elaborate and said further details would be announced later this week. Under federal traffic laws introduced last year, 33 violations result in cars being confiscated for between seven and 60 days. For instance, driving under the influence of alcohol results in 60 days' confiscation, while reckless driving results in 30 days; jumping a red light results in 15 days and not stopping after causing an accident brings a seven-day confiscation.
Response to the news among motorists was varied. Dalia Sufian, 25, a media sales manager, whose car has been confiscated twice for 30 days, welcomed the decision and said she would have paid the money if she had had the option when her car was confiscated. "It is better to have the option to pay, rather than go through the hassle of renting a car. And that doesn't mean I'll be less careful on the road, because I don't want to pay the money anyway."
Sarah Fakhra, 24, an office manager, backed the decision because of difficulties with public transport. "For example, my house is far from my workplace. It will be a big problem if my car gets confiscated because I can't rely on public transportation." She did not think motorists would now be less careful on the road, "because paying money is punishment enough".
Michael Kakish, 25, a Jordanian sales manager, believed, however, that the new rules would lead to more carelessness. He said: "People might be less careful on the road because major offences that result in car confiscation will become like any other violations that you can pay money for and get them over with, so it is better to include black points as well. Shadia Alosh, 50, a Jordanian housewife and mother of four, agreed: "So now people who have money, their cars won't get confiscated, while the cars of those who don't have money will be confiscated? This means there is no equality and it is unfair to the less wealthy. It is illogical." However, her daughter Dana Dajani, 29, an IT auditor, said: "This is a practical decision especially for working people. Those who have money can pay and release their cars." As for safety, she added: "Things are crazy on the road anyway, so it wouldn't make a difference. Those who want to violate the rules will violate them anyway." Muhannad Rafiq, 30, a sales executive whose car was once confiscated for 30 days, said he would pay Dh100 to avoid confiscation, but would not be able to afford the Dh200 for a second offence. "The option is reasonable, because if your car gets confiscated, you will have to pay to rent one anyway, so it is better to pay to keep your own car." Last year, 3,170 confiscated cars were stored at the vehicle compounds in Abu Dhabi and Mafraq, out of which 2,953 were released once the confiscation period was over and their owners had paid their fines. Col al Shamsi refused to say whether the new legislation was an attempt to reduce overcrowding at vehicle compounds, saying that further details would be revealed later in the week. Over the past three years, the number of cars on the capital's roads has grown by 49 per cent and the number of new drivers' licences issued by 16 per cent. The number of vehicles increased from 392,546 in 2006 to 583,015 in 2008, while drivers' licences over the same period increased from 581,179 to 676,660. email@example.com