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Young People and Infringement Fines: A Qualitative Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2005
59 pages
This study was commissioned by the New Zealand Ministry of Justice to review the interaction between the infringement fines system for driving offenses and the small group of young people who owe significant amounts of infringement fines.
The key finding confirmed that serious fine defaulters were more likely to be young males with relatively low levels of education and income. Serious fine defaulters were also more likely to disregard vehicle ownership and driver licensing laws and to have limited ability to engage with the processes that result in infringement fines being both imposed and enforced. Indeed, the last factor underscored the fact that their default had just as much to do with their inability to deal with regulatory systems as it did with their inability to pay. The evidence suggested that while many of the fined individuals complained about the unfairness of the fine, none took steps to officially dispute the fines levied against them. Moreover, fined drivers continued to drive and simply had future infringement fines added to their bill, so to speak. Infringers who were interviewed did not consider the infringement fine system a deterrent but rather a government revenue building exercise. The report provides recommendations for reducing the rate of default on infringement fines. These recommendations include a system of early intervention for those new to infringement, debt minimization for those who owe significant amounts in infringement fines, and debt reduction targeting those who have received fines in recent years. Participants were 20 young infringers and 10 family members who were interviewed regarding their perception of the infringement system. In addition to presenting the results of this study, the report describes New Zealand’s infringement system, which fines drivers for license-related and vehicle-related offenses, and discusses the impacts and consequences of infringement fines on drivers. Tables, footnotes, appendixes