16/07/2009 - 00:00

State rethinks car confiscation law

16/07/2009 - 00:00

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THE state government is reviewing legislation to better protect business from new laws that allow vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers to be confiscated.

State rethinks car confiscation law

THE state government is reviewing legislation to better protect business from new laws that allow vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers to be confiscated.

Under proposed amendments to the new laws, introduced last month, workers caught driving a company vehicle without a valid licence could have their own car seized.

Currently, if a person is caught driving without a valid licence, WA police will impound the vehicle - regardless if it is operated in a commercial or private capacity - on the spot for 28 days.

Police Minister Rob Johnson said while the small business community had not raised specific concerns with the new sanctions, the government was looking at several options with regard to ensuring that businesses were not unnecessarily affected by the legislation.

"One of those options is allowing an employer's vehicle that has been seized to be substituted for a vehicle belonging to the employee who is caught driving without a licence," he told WA Business News.

"No detail on this proposal has been finalised at this stage, however if I seek to amend the legislation, the police would have the discretion to substitute a vehicle similar to the discretion they have in relation to hoon offences.

"At the end of the day, action needed to be taken to ensure unlicensed drivers are not on our roads, and these new laws aim to achieve that."

East Metropolitan Region MLC Alyssa Hayden said the onus was on businesses to be diligent in checking the validity of their staff members' licences.

"I understand the need for staff to carry a valid licence for insurance purposes alone," she said.

"However, with the government's tough stance on impounding vehicles of unlicensed drivers, the business community should implement systems to ensure company vehicles are not taken off the road for 28 days or more."

Council of Small Businesses of Australia chief executive Jaye Radisich said the legislation was "ridiculous" and "unduly onerous" on business.

"This is another layer of red tape on business operations and just adds another layer of burden on the business community," she said.

Belmont Business Enterprise Centre chief executive Carol Hanlon said police action should be against the person and their own property, not used against a third party's property.

"Having a business vehicle confiscated and the property of a small business is a disaster, for a huge range of reasons, including things like removal of tools of trade, deliveries not being made, the business not being able to continue to operate," she said.

"In good faith, the small business has accepted the word of its contractor or staff member that their licence is valid and this action is penalising the wrong entity.

"Fine or gaol the offender, but give the small business their vehicle, tools and stock back immediately."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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