Friday, April 25, 2008

Fine and handy

It’s so very easy to pay the penalties for road traffic offences. Simply check Dubai Police on line or at the public cash-payment machines in the shopping malls, flex your Flexible Fiend and, as if by magic, your motoring offences are expunged. Super convenient for the busy motorist. Or leave it until the annual re-registration at Tasjeel to pay up. Aside from the cost, and let’s face it if you’ve just bought a Lamborghini you’re unlikely to be hard up for a couple of hundred dirhams, there is little or no punitive message. Perhaps Black Points on the driving licence provide the punitive element. Collect enough, and you get a bicycle your licence is suspended. It’s easy to see quite how effective having no licence is when we see spotty fourteen-year-olds driving Land Cruisers to the mall to drop off their mother and sisters because neither Daddy nor the driver were available. No licence. No insurance. No right to be on the road. No respect.

How well has the Black Points system to punish bad drivers been thought out? Your car gets photographed at R17 and this earns you as the owner a big pile of points. The first you learn about it is when you look at the Dubai Police website, or possibly up to a year later at Tasjeel time. But suppose you were away all summer and lent your car to a friend? Hah, some friend, who will of course happily turn up chez Plod and confess. And the bear is a Buddhist.

Supposedly the traffic police computer systems across all seven emirates are interlinked, but my single speeding incident in Dubai last October doesn’t show on Sharjah Police’s website. The Goatmobile is registered in Sharjah so maybe at Tasjeel time I won’t get fined, unlike last year when I had to pay Dh200 for doing 101kph in a 100 zone. One of my colleagues recently paid his fines at a machine in Dubai. Then a fortnight later he had to pay them again because they were still showing as unpaid on the Sharjah Police system and it’s impossible to re-register the car unless all fines are paid.

It was with disbelief that I first saw my current speeding fine. Having convinced myself that I was at work in Sharjah when the alleged offence occurred on Al Quds Street in Dubai, I made the effort and turned up chez Plod in Al Twar where a helpful officer showed me the high-resolution pic of the Goatmobile. Ah, bang to rights, then.

A new feature on the Dubai Police website is the marvellous idea of clicking on‘Show Picture’ to see the photo of the errant vehicle, in lieu of all that tedious going to Al Twar.

And then up pops the message:

The picture could not be displayed on the internet

One would have hoped that the new feature would have been checked for functionality before rolling it out for general consumption. Perhaps there have been complaints regarding privacy. It could be very embarrassing for all concerned, having your motoring sins published on the worldwide web, showing that at the time of the alleged offence you were accompanied by someone else’s spouse. Come to that, despite the convenience of knowing whether or not you got busted, isn’t it an invasion of your personal privacy if any Tom Dick or Abdullah can check your motoring record at the machine in the mall or through the police website?

For amusement, and in direct violation of somebody’s privacy, it would hypothetically be possible to enter a random registration number, possibly of the imbecile who just carved you up... It could be a competition: get a few mates together and see who can find the highest value of outstanding fines. See which car has incurred the most Black Points. And how about the oldest outstanding fine?

Imagine finding a vehicle with over Dh20,000 in fines owing, and with some fines dated back to 2002. This would imply that the car hadn’t been re-registered for the past six years. If that’s the owner’s attitude to registration, what’s his opinion on motor insurance?



i*maginate said...

I'm also baffled by websites here having pages that don't show. It looks tacky and is frustrating. I say why have a website that is not user-friendly to say the least?

Btw in Etisalat you can just type anyone's mobile number in the system to check their balance!

Once somebody gave me their internet connection details so I could use them so I went to confirm the details with etisalat coz my friend said go check if the details are still valid and the lady showed me the names under which the services were registered until I got the right one!

Anonymous said...

yeah...totally unfair place is this Dubai!i parked at public place in the Greens...wihtout any sign it s restricted, not in visitors only section-pure public free parking(very few of them available)...and i got fine!!!!!!!!!!where than to park...i really dont unerstand where, if where it s allowed to do so, they still fine you!....


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