Why do problems arise when paying fines for traffic violations and how to avoid them?
Denis Dmitrov, founder of Fines UA service
Every year, about 40% of fines for traffic violations are not paid on time. In 2019, those fines have amounted to about 200 million UAH. The sum is impressive, but it does not describe the depth of the problem. Overdue fines are not only a shortfall to the budget. They also become an additional burden on the State Executive Service (SES). Drivers who have overdue fines have to pay double. In the process of collecting fines, their bank accounts may be seized and cars may be put in a wanted list.
Launch of the system for automatic recording of traffic violations has further increased the amount of overdue payments. Only for the first month of its work, almost 400 thousand fines were imposed, of which about 220 thousand were paid. Moreover, there are only 50 cameras in Kiev and at the entrance to the capital, and they only record one type of violation - speeding.
Obviously, the number of cameras is going to grow constantly, they will be installed all over Ukraine, and new types of fines will be added as well. Of course, this will have a positive impact on the drivers’ behavior on the roads. But the culture of paying fines also needs to be improved. In order to do this, we need to understand how the mechanism of fines payment works in Ukraine, and what the main difficulties are.
The point, of course, is not mass irresponsibility of Ukrainian car owners. When you start supporting drivers, you realize that about half of the incidents relate to the situation when a person seems to have paid the fine on time, but it is still listed as unpaid in the police database.
In fact, every second or third fine actually paid is considered unpaid. The reason is that the complex process of payment and peculiarities of financial institutions lead to a high probability of operational error. Many people just do not realize it, believing that payment of fine is similar to transfer of money from card to card – a fine is closed at the moment when the receipt is received. Actually, it is not.
Until recently, the situation was also complicated by the fact that the driver did not have an ability to monitor the status of his/her fines. Except for a phone call or visit to the patrol police department, or to SES. By the way, due to the quarantine conditions, this possibility is limited, it is also not easy to get through by phone and the only option to solve the problem is to send e-mail requests and wait for answers within the time limits established by law. Which, of course, no one would do regularly.
When in the spring of 2020 the Ministry of Internal Affairs started to provide online access to the register of fines, it became possible to check their status online using a special application. On the part of the National Police this is a big step forward in terms of payment transparency and drivers' awareness. At the same time, many drivers were surprised unpleasantly. The fines they considered to have been paid a long time ago were still attributed to them. No, this is not a program error. This is exactly the case when the payment didn't reach the recipient due to error.
There are several main reasons that lead to this problem in cases when payment is made through a bank or other financial institutions:
- Details or data entered incorrectly (incorrect sum or account number). The purpose of the payment may also be formed incorrectly. As a result, the money is sent to the wrong place or the police system does not recognize the payment.
- Payment made on the last days of the 15-day period set by law. Since the financial institution has 3 banking days for the transaction, the money may be late and the fine may be sent to the executive service, which doubles it immediately and starts the proceedings.
- Duplication of the fine. Two identical fines may appear in the register if the inspector accidentally presses a button on his tablet for several times (this happens if the internet connection is poor). You will pay for one, and you may not even know that the second fine exists.
What do you have to do in such cases?
Sometimes you just have to wait. Any payment in the banking system takes time to reach the destination. If the status of the fine does not change within 5-6 days, then you cannot manage this without paying personal visit to the administrative practice department of the Patrol Police Department or SES, bringing the payment documents with you. In case of a small error, it can be corrected. Duplicate fines can be removed easily. However, in some cases, proceedings will take you a lot of time and nerves.
Advice for the future: use specialized online services integrated with the registry of the Ministry of Interior Affairs. That's the most effective way to do it for now. Firstly, it provides an operational control of the presence of unpaid fines (up to receiving push notifications). Secondly, such services make the process of fine payment fully automated, which significantly reduces the probability of error. And, of course, you should also not violate the traffic rules again.