Natisni vsebino

2.4.3. Misdemeanour procedures

Annual Report

2.4.3. Misdemeanour procedures

For 2001 we can repeat the finding that misdemeanour judges are faced with a large quantity of work, such that many misdemeanour proceedings lapse. The ombudsman has stressed a number of times that a state which prescribes certain behaviour as a misdemeanour, but then cannot sanction the misdemeanour committed, is not a state based on the rule of law. Such a state of affairs demands immediate and effective changes, primarily on the regulatory level. As a part of punitive law, the body of law governing misdemeanours must be rearranged and in this an effective system must be ensured for prosecuting or dismissing actions that are determined by regulations as misdemeanours. At the end of 2001 the Ministry of Justice submitted the text of the proposed Misdemeanours Act, which prior to the legislative procedure in the National Assembly is awaiting the determination of the wording by the government.

The Act Amending and Supplementing the Misdemeanours Act (ZP-L), which entered into force in April 2000, laid down that the provisions of the article introducing the institution of cautioning, will begin to be applied when the Government adopts a regulation with more detailed provisions. This new feature adopted to deal with misdemeanours promised greater efficiency and a reduction in the workload for misdemeanour judges, so it was essential that the caution system start being applied without any undue delay. But the Government only issued the Regulation on the manner, forms and record-keeping for cautions given by police officers immediately on the scene of a misdemeanour, a year and three months after the legal entry into force of the institution of cautions. This is a new example of the slow response of the executive branch of power preventing the swifter implementation of legal provisions whose aim was at least partly to reduce the burden on misdemeanour judges.

A consequence of the overworking of misdemeanour judges is the constant re-determining of misdemeanours treated as priorities. Since 1998 the Rules on internal operations of bodies for misdemeanour procedures have thus been amended three times, precisely because of additional determination of which misdemeanours are treated as priorities. Since the misdemeanour judges deal primarily with cases that are determined as urgent or priority, they set aside other cases, which frequently lapse. The implementing regulation and the practice of judges are clearly set in the view that this is almost a state of emergency, which justifies the setting aside of non-priority cases from being processed. Such a state of affairs demands the earliest possible, effective systemic change.

The rules on the order of dealing with misdemeanours cannot be understood as meaning that a misdemeanours judge could on this basis justify the suspension of hearing of a case which had already been started. And yet this happens. In this way a misdemeanours judge in Novo Mesto interviewed the defendants in September 2000, three months later the police officer as a witness, and then she took the view that in order to clear up the affair it would be necessary to have a face to face meeting with the defendants. But this was not done and in 2001 the proceedings lapsed completely.

One of the defendants, who asserts that he is in truth a victim and injured party, asked the ombudsman to intervene in order to speed up the proceedings. He wants a decision, since he asserts that he committed no misdemeanour. In his complaint he states that he approached the misdemeanours judge several times with a request for the proceedings to be continued. In the office he was supposedly sent away with the explanation that the misdemeanours judge had “work to do that was sufficiently more serious than dealing with one punch-up”. He alleges that he was also told public order and peace misdemeanours are “not priority”, so he would have to wait “quite a long time for a judgement”.

Defendants have the right to a decision on a motion to institute misdemeanour proceedings without undue delay. This involves not only the timing of when the misdemeanour is next in line for a hearing, but also the right of the defendant to regular, ongoing and concentrated hearing of the case. The fact that the misdemeanours judge had already performed individual actions in the proceedings, means that he had begun the hearing. So the case was next in line, and a suspension of the proceedings cannot therefore be justified with the explanation that this did not involve a misdemeanour determined as requiring priority treatment. At the same time, by conducting an interview, the misdemeanours judge drew the defendant directly into the proceedings. He required the defendant’s cooperation or at least his presence in the proceedings. The defendant may therefore justifiably expect the misdemeanours judge to deal with the initiated proceedings regularly and currently, and to decide on the said misdemeanour.

The suspension of validity of a driving licence applies to all categories of motor vehicle and not just for the category of vehicle with which a misdemeanour has been committed. The purpose of such a legal arrangement is to entirely prevent the perpetrators of the most serious violations of road traffic safety regulations from using the roads. Yet in seeking to ensure the principle of expediency, such that to the greatest possible extent it is dangerous drivers that are excluded from using the roads, encroaching on the principle of legality in punitive law is not permitted. The law does not prohibit the obtaining of a driving licence for a new category of motor vehicle, for which at the time of the misdemeanour the perpetrator did not have a licence. A person who has committed a misdemeanour may therefore during the proceedings with the misdemeanours judge take a driving test for any category of motor vehicle, and this is confirmed in that person’s driving licence. On the suspension of the driving licence the punished person must hand over the driving licence to the administrative unit. In this way the validity of the driving licence is then actually suspended for all those categories of motor vehicle acquired after the declaration of the sanction, right up until the handing over of the driving licence to the administrative unit.

The principle of legality requires that a punitive sanction relates only to the removal of rights enjoyed by the punished person at the moment of the punishment being imposed. This means that the punitive sanction of suspension of a driving licence can only be imposed for the categories of motor vehicle which the defendant had already acquired prior to the passing of the sanction and which he therefore held at the time. Otherwise the precise extent of the punishment upon its imposition is not known, and the misdemeanours judge hands down a punishment without knowing which rights he is thereby taking from the punished person.

The ombudsman received several complaints that the punishment of suspension of a driving licence for all categories of motor vehicle encroaches on the rights that the punished person has acquired after the decision of the misdemeanours judge has been issued. Such cases signify an unlawful encroachment by state bodies on the legal position of persons punished with the suspension of their driving licence.

The decision to temporarily ban dangerous drivers from using the roads is of course justified. Yet the legitimate goal does not permit unlawful avenues for pursuing it. The ombudsman therefore suggests an appropriate amendment of the regulations on road traffic misdemeanours, perhaps with the introduction of the sanction of banning the acquisition of a driving licence for all categories of motor vehicle for a certain time.

The punitive sanction has its proper effect if it is handed down and imposed in the shortest possible time after the actual perpetration of the misdemeanour. Instead of the state dealing instantly with a dangerous violator of road traffic safety regulations, handing down a punishment and imposing it, the practice is in fact quite different. There is questionable sense in a punishment, if a driver, who by driving under the influence of alcohol or psychoactive substances has shown that they are not worthy of the trust enjoyed by those using the roads, is still able to drive around independently and unimpeded more than two years after committing a misdemeanour. Such was the case of a complainant, when two years and four months after committing a misdemeanour, he received a judgement with the punishment of suspension of his driving licence. He received the summons to surrender his driving licence to the administrative unit a few weeks later.

The valid legislation and its implementation in procedures with misdemeanours judges do not allow for effective measures to protect other road users, while for the actual offender the imposition of the punishment is put off to a time when the punishment might already have lost its significance and purpose. The fundamental purpose of a punitive sanction, to secure immediate and effective protection against violation of road traffic safety regulations, is thus nullified. Lengthy decision-making procedures also jeopardise the principle of justice as a primary function of punitive sanctions, whereby they are imposed only at that time and up to such time as they are justified in terms of prevention and resocialisation.

 

 

Letno poročilo 2001 - Poglavje 2.4.3.

2.4.3. Postopki o prekrških

Tudi za leto 2001 lahko le ponovimo ugotovitev, da so sodniki za prekrške soočeni z velikim obsegom dela tako, da veliko postopkov o prekrških zastara. Varuh je že večkrat poudaril, da država, ki določeno ravnanje predpiše kot prekršek, hkrati pa storjenega prekrška ne zmore sankcionirati, ni pravna država. Tako stanje terja takojšnje in učinkovite spremembe predvsem na normativni ravni. Pravo o prekrških kot del kaznovalnega prava je treba urediti na novo in pri tem zagotoviti učinkovit sistem obravnavanja storitev ali opustitev, ki so s predpisi določeni kot prekršek. Konec leta 2001 nam je Ministrstvo za pravosodje (MP) poslalo besedilo predloga Zakona o prekrških, ki ga pred državnozborskim zakonodajnim postopkom čaka še določitev besedila na vladi.


Zakon o spremembah in dopolnitvah zakona o prekrških (ZP-L), ki je začel veljati aprila 2000, je določil, da se bodo določbe člena, ki uvajajo institut opozorila, začele uporabljati takrat, ko bo Vlada sprejela uredbo s podrobnejšimi določbami. Sprejeta novost pri obravnavanju prekrškov je obetala večjo učinkovitost in zmanjšanje pripada sodnikom za prekrške, zato je bilo nujno, da se opozorilo začne uporabljati brez nepotrebnega odlašanja. Toda Vlada je Uredbo o načinu, obrazcih in vodenju evidence opozoril, ki jih izrekajo policisti takoj na kraju prekrška, izdala šele eno leto in tri mesece po zakonski uveljavitvi instituta opozorila. Gre za nov primer, da je izvršilna veja oblasti s počasnim odzivom preprečila hitrejšo uveljavitev zakonske določbe, katere cilj je bil vsaj delna razbremenitev sodnika za prekrške.


Posledica preobremenjenosti sodnikov za prekrške je tudi vedno novo določanje prekrškov, ki se obravnavajo prednostno. Tako je bil od leta 1998 trikrat spremenjen Pravilnik o notranjem poslovanju organov za postopek o prekrških prav zaradi dodatnega določanja, kateri prekrški se obravnavajo prednostno. Ker sodniki za prekrške obravnavajo predvsem zadeve, ki so določene kot nujne ali prednostne, opuščajo druge zadeve, ki pogosto zastarajo. Podzakonski predpis in praksa sodnikov za prekrške očitno štejeta, da gre za skoraj izredne razmere, ki utemeljujejo izločanje neprednostnih zadev iz obravnavanja. Takšno stanje zahteva čimprejšnje učinkovite sistemske spremembe.


Pravila o vrstnem redu obravnavanja prekrškov ni dopustno razumeti tako, da bi smela sodnica za prekrške na tej podlagi utemeljiti prenehanje obravnavanja zadeve, ki jo je že začel obravnavati. A tudi to se dogaja. Tako je sodnica za prekrške v Novem mestu zaslišala obdolžence septembra 2000, tri mesece kasneje tudi policista kot pričo in ocenila, da je za razjasnitev zadeve treba opraviti še soočenje med obdolženci. Vendar tega ni opravila in postopek je v letu 2001 povsem zastal.


Eden od obdolžencev, ki meni, da je v resnici žrtev in oškodovanec, je prosil varuha za posredovanje zaradi pospešitve postopka. Želi odločitev, ker meni, da prekrška ni storil. V pobudi je navedel, da se je večkrat oglasil pri sodniku za prekrške s prošnjo za nadaljevanje obravnavanja. V pisarni naj bi ga odpravili s pojasnilom, da ima sodnica za prekrške “dovolj bolj resnega dela, kot je pa obravnava enega pretepa”. Zatrjuje, da mu je bilo tudi povedano, da prekrški zoper javni red in mir “niso prioritetni”, tako da bo moral “dalj časa čakati na razsodbo”.


Obdolženec ima pravico do odločitve o predlogu za uvedbo postopka o prekršku brez nepotrebnega odlašanja. Pri tem ne gre samo za čas, kdaj pride obravnavanje prekrška na vrsto, pač pa tudi za pravico obdolženca do rednega, tekočega in koncentriranega obravnavanja zadeve. S tem, ko je sodnik za prekrške že opravil posamezna dejanja v postopku, je začel z obravnavanjem. Torej je bila zadeva že na vrsti, zato zastoja v nadaljevanju postopka ni mogoče utemeljevati s pojasnilom, da ne gre za prekršek, za katerega je določeno prednostno obravnavanje. Hkrati pa je sodnik za prekrške z zaslišanjem neposredno pritegnil obdolženca v postopek. Zahteval je njegovo sodelovanje ali vsaj prisotnost v postopku. Zato utemeljeno pričakuje, da bo sodnik za prekrške začeti postopek redno in tekoče obravnaval in odločil o očitku storjenega prekrška.


Prenehanje veljavnosti vozniškega dovoljenja se izreče za vse kategorije motornih vozil in ne le za kategorijo vozil, s katerim je bil storjen prekršek. Namen takšne zakonske ureditve je popolnoma onemogočiti udeležbo v prometu storilcem najhujših kršitev predpisov o varnosti cestnega prometa. Vendar pa zaradi zagotavljanja načela koristnosti, da se v kar največji meri iz prometa izločijo nevarni vozniki, ni dovoljeno posegati v načelo zakonitosti v kaznovalnem pravu. Zakon ne določa prepovedi pridobitve vozniškega dovoljenja za novo kategorijo motornega vozila, za katero voznik ob storitvi prekrška ni imel vozniškega dovoljenja. Oseba, ki je storila prekršek, tako lahko v času postopka pred sodnikom za prekrške, ali pa tudi kasneje, dokler ne odda vozniškega dovoljenja, opravi vozniški izpit še za katero od kategorij motornih vozil in se ji to potrdi v vozniškem dovoljenju. Ob izreku prenehanja veljavnosti vozniškega dovoljenja mora kaznovana oseba oddati vozniško dovoljenje upravni enoti. S tem pa ji dejansko preneha veljavnost vozniškega dovoljenja tudi za vse tiste kategorije motornih vozil, ki jih je pridobila po izreku te kazenske sankcije, vse do oddaje vozniškega dovoljenja upravni enoti.


Načelo zakonitosti zahteva, da se kaznovalna sankcija nanaša zgolj na odvzem pravic, ki jih ima kaznovana oseba v trenutku izreka kazni. To pomeni, da se kazenska sankcija prenehanja veljavnosti vozniškega dovoljenja lahko izreče le za kategorije motornih vozil, ki jih je obdolženec do trenutka izreka te sankcije že pridobil in jih torej takrat ima. Drugače natančen obseg kazni ob izreku ni znan in sodnik za prekrške izreče kazen, ne da bi vedel, katere pravice vse s tem jemlje kaznovani osebi.


Varuh je prejel več pobud, da izrečena kazen prenehanja veljavnosti vozniškega dovoljenja za vse kategorije motornih vozil posega v pravice, ki jih je kaznovana oseba pridobila že po izdaji odločbe sodnika za prekrške. Takšni primeri pomenijo nezakonit poseg državnih organov v pravni položaj oseb z izrečeno kaznijo prenehanja veljavnosti vozniškega dovoljenja.


Odločitev o začasni izločitvi nevarnih voznikov iz prometa je seveda utemeljena. Vendar pa legitimen cilj ne dovoljuje nezakonite poti za njegovo uresničitev. Zato varuh predlaga ustrezno spremembo predpisov o cestnoprometnih prekrških, morda z uvedbo sankcije prepovedi pridobitve vozniškega dovoljenja za vse kategorije motornih vozil za določen čas.

Kaznovalna sankcija ima svoj pravi učinek le, če je izrečena in izvršena v čim krajšem času po sami storitvi prekrška. Namesto da bi država nevarnega kršitelja predpisov o varnosti cestnega prometa takoj obravnavala, mu izrekla kazen in jo izvršila, je praksa povsem drugačna. Dvomljiva je smotrnost kaznovanja, če lahko voznik, ki je z vožnjo pod vplivom alkohola ali psihoaktivnih snovi izkazal, da ni vreden zaupanja, ki ga uživajo udeleženci v prometu, še več kot dve leti po storitvi prekrška nemoteno samostojno vozi v cestnem prometu. Takšen je bil primer pobudnika, ko so minili dve leti in štirje meseci od storjenega prekrška, da je dobil pravnomočno odločbo z izrečeno kaznijo prenehanja veljavnosti vozniškega dovoljenja. Poziv, da odda vozniško dovoljene upravni enoti, pa je prejel še nekaj tednov kasneje.


Veljavna zakonodaja in njeno izvajanje v postopku pri sodniku za prekrške ne omogočata učinkovitega ukrepanja zaradi varstva drugih udeležencev v cestnem prometu, samemu storilcu prekrška pa učinkovanje izrečene kazni odlagata na čas, ko kaznovanje že lahko izgubi svoj pomen in namen. Temeljni namen kaznovalne sankcije, da se zagotovi takojšnje in učinkovito varstvo pred kršitvami predpisov o varnosti cestnega prometa, je tako izjalovljen. Dolgotrajnost pri odločanju postavlja v negotovost tudi pravičnost kot eno poglavitnih funkcij kaznovalnih sankcij, da pride do njene uporabe le tedaj in do tedaj, ko je to še upravičeno v ideji prevencije in resocializacije.

 

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