Road police are sending a clear message to offending drivers – stop breaking the traffic rules or be prepared to pay a hefty fine for your violations.
New amendments in the Code of Administrative Offenses envisaging higher fines for offenses on the roads began enforcement in Armenia in late March.
Head of the Organization Analysis Department of Armenian Police, Lieutenant-Colonel Hayk Sargsyan says all measures will be taken to keep drivers and pedestrians informed about the new changes, which he hopes will considerably improve the situation on the roads.
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Drivers can be fined 5,000 drams (or about $13.50) for not wearing seatbelts or throwing items from the window while driving. Failure to comply with road sign will result in a fine of 3,000 drams and violating the double lines will cost the offender 10,000 drams. Drinking drivers caught by police will have to pay a fine of 50,000 to 75,000 drams according to the amount of alcohol found in their blood. If the driver refuses to take an alcohol test he will pay 100,000 drams. Drivers caught drink-driving twice within a year may be deprived of their driving licenses for up to three years. Bad parking is fined 20,000 drams. Owners (drivers) of cars with darkened windows will have to pay a fine of 50,000 drams.
Fines of 10,000 to 30,000 drams are foreseen for breaking speed limits within the city and outside.
In case of failing to pay the fines within 60 days, the amount of the fine will increase fivefold. Police say traffic surveillance cameras are not installed yet, but will soon be placed in patrol cars and roadside.
“The installation of cameras is currently underway. But it doesn’t mean that drivers may break traffic rules and say they didn’t,” Sargsyan says.
Offending drivers will also be fined by inspectors on routine traffic patrol.
President of the Achilles Center for the Protection of Drivers’ Rights NGO Eduard Hovhannisyan told ArmeniaNow that the recent reforms will surely have a positive effect on the situation on the roads and the installation of cameras will reduce corruption risks as it will minimize the immediate contact between the inspector and the driver.
“We came up with similar proposals still in 2003, but for some reason the state automobile inspection then did not take them seriously,” said Hovhannisyan, adding that still some of the new envisaged fines are not adequate to the gravity of offence.
In his opinion, in installing video cameras warning signs should be posted for drivers, as it is done all over the world.
Hovhannisyan says that penalized drivers must by all means be provided with copies of acts, which, he says, is not done by police now and the alcohol test for drivers must be conducted in the presence of at least two witnesses.
Hovhannisyan says his organization receives numerous phone calls from citizens inquiring about the new changes. The NGO promises to print booklets with all related information in as many copies as possible soon to be distributed among drivers free of charge.
“I am just learning to drive a car. I will try to drive without violations,” says 26-year-old Marine Ghahramanyan, who has attended driving school for a month and has already learned to wear her seatbelt.
One owner of numerous white 4x4 Nivas in Yerevan says he doesn’t like the stricter rules.
The driver, who didn’t want his name to be published, says that in order to go into the right direction from his house when entering the main road he is forced to break the rules. “Why is the U-turn sign so far?” he says angrily. “Of course, when I am in a hurry I sometimes make this violation, but in a way not jeopardizing other drivers or pedestrians.”
As noticeably more drivers and passengers on the roads acquire the new habit of wearing seatbelts, one car mechanic in Yerevan says he has had an increasing number of customers who want their broken seatbelt devices fixed or installed if their vehicles are without them.