An immediate step that can be undertaken to streamline our justice system is to remove the requirement to make a court appearance to plead guilty for reasonable speeding offences. Recently the Bermuda Sun highlighted that because of delays in processing offenses, the justice system simply cannot cope with the tickets that are being written which is holding back the advancement of technologies that could make our roads safer. This is why the system must be fixed to remove inefficiencies. The one glaring inefficiency that is wasting the time and energy of our courts is unnecessary guilty pleas. Let them simply pay the fine, get the points and be done with it.
If you’ve ever earned yourself a speeding violation you’ve likely recognized how inefficient the process of attending court can be. You appear on your scheduled court date and are required to sit through a wide time range as the court herds groups of people into the courtroom alphabetically. Then, as one of the herd you sit in the courtroom as you listen to each name being called and watch as the majority of people simply stand up and pronounce themselves as guilty as they hear their name and offence called out. This process is an immense waste of time for both our courts and our officers.
In a recent article, the Bermuda Sun highlighted the inefficiencies of our justice system and it’s inability to deal with the volume of offenses. A source close to the speed camera scheme suggested:
“Already the police and the court system are struggling to keep up with parking violations, speeding tickets and all the rest of it. To throw hundreds or thousands of extra fines into that mix would be next to pointless. It would be unenforceable.”
The article also suggests that many police officers are frustrated that the tickets they write are seemingly pointless if the court system is unable to cope with fines issued by them.
The system is broken and needs to be fixed. An immediate step is to eliminate the requirement to appear in court for a reasonable guilty plea. Anyone caught speeding under say 70kph should be given the option to tick guilty on the back of their ticket, sign it and pay the fine. No court appearance, no hassle, simply a fine and the demerit points they earned would be marked against their record. Should they go over their allotment of points then they should then receive a summons to have their license removed. Those wishing to plead not guilty would be welcome to appear in court alongside those with unreasonable offences such as going above 70kph.
Our justice system needs to be streamlined to remove unnecessary bureaucracy. We need to free our police officers and judges so that they can focus on what is important. The Bermuda Sun has highlighted the inefficiencies in our system that are holding back important changes that could help save lives and those inefficiencies should be righted. Requiring people to appear in court simply to stand up and pronounce a guilty plea is exactly the kind of antiquated policy that can and should be changed if we hope to make steps towards a safer Bermuda.
I think attending Court is part of the punishment for speading.
Whilst I can agree to ‘tick the box, pay fine, collect demerits’ for speeds up to 55 kpg – to allow people to easily pay and collect penalties for travelling twice the speed limit (70kpg)is too easy an option for many.
Courts need streamlining but road need to be made safer and excess speed – and twice the limit is certainly excess – is a major problem.
“I think attending Court is part of the punishment for speading.”
Then we’ve come up with the wrong punishments when the court system is so backed up that we cease to crack down on speeding.
The reason why I chose 70kph is that it is my understanding that if you travel over that speed you are highly likely to lose your license for a year. At that point it is necessary for you to see the courts to evaluate if that is the case.
Regardless of the speed, my arguement is that we should not waste our court’s time with unnecessary guilty pleas. If they are travelling under the speed at which your license will be automatically revoked, then they shouldn’t have to attend court to plead guilty.
The demerit point system, if instituted effectively, will take care of removing the licenses of those who speed regularly.