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On the imposition of an administrative penalty upon the person who has already been punished for the violations

Case No. 26/99

 

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF

THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

R U L I N G

 

On the compliance of Article 1302 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the Republic of Lithuania (wording of 18 July 1994) with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania

 

Vilnius, 7 May 2001

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Egidijus Jarašiūnas, Egidijus Kūris, Zigmas Levickis, Augustinas Normantas, Vladas Pavilonis, Jonas Prapiestis, Vytautas Sinkevičius, Stasys Stačiokas, and Teodora Staugaitienė

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

Pranas Petkevičius, a senior consultant to the Law Department of the Office of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, acting as the representative of the party concerned

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Paragraph 1 of Article 1 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, on 2 May 2001, in its public hearing considered case No. 26/99 subsequent to the petition submitted to the Constitutional Court by the Šiauliai City Local Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into the compliance of Article 1302 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the Republic of Lithuania (wording of 18 July 1994) with Paragraph 5 of Article 31 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

The petitioner—the Šiauliai City Local Court—was considering a civil case regarding the imposition of an administrative penalty. By means of its ruling, the said court suspended the consideration of the case and applied to the Constitutional Court requesting an investigation into the compliance of Article 1302 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the Republic of Lithuania (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1994, No. 58-1132) (hereinafter also referred to as the CAVL) with Paragraph 5 of Article 31 of the Constitution.

II

The petition of the petitioner is based on the following arguments.

Under Article 1302 of the CAVL, in cases of systematic violation of the Road Traffic Rules, i.e. the commission of several violations during one year which are provided for in Paragraphs 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Article 124, Paragraphs 1, 3 and 5 of Article 1241 and Article 125 of the CAVL when the sum of points imposed for which is ten and more, the drivers shall be deprived of the right to drive a vehicle for one year. In the opinion of the petitioner, the person who has been already punished for the violations is imposed an administrative punishment for the sum of committed violations.

Article 5 of Article 31 of the Constitution provides that no person may be punished for the same offence twice. According to the petitioner, this provision ought to be followed when one applies administrative liability for administrative violations of law. Therefore, the petitioner doubts whether Article 1302 of the CAVL is in compliance with Paragraph 5 of Article 31 of the Constitution.

III

In the course of the preparation of the case for the court proceedings, written explanations as regards the arguments of the petitioner were received from the representative of the party concerned P. Petkevičius.

The representative of the party concerned noted that the peculiarity of the body of the violation of law provided for in Article 1302 of the CAVL is that one commits the violations pointed out in the disposition of the legal norm in the course of one year and that every such a violation is assessed in a certain number of points. The purpose of the calculation of the points for the violations of administrative law as pointed out in the law is to warn the drivers that instead of monetary fines a stricter penalty—deprivation of the right to drive a vehicle—will be applied for systematic violation of the Road Traffic Rules. Article 1302 of the CAVL is applied properly if: (1) violation of the Road Traffic Rules is systematic, i.e. not less than three indicated violations have been committed; (2) violations are assessed in points and their sum is bigger than ten points; (3) the violations and their assessment in points are pointed out in the protocol of the last violation and the decision to impose a penalty; (4) a fine is not imposed for the last violation, while the driver is punished by one administrative penalty under Article 1302 of the CAVL, i.e. deprivation of the right to drive a vehicle for one year. According to the representative of the party concerned, if Article 1302 of the CAVL is understood in this manner, it is in compliance with Paragraph 5 of Article 31 of the Constitution.

IV

In the course of the preparation of the case for the court proceedings, written explanations were received from V. Markevičius, Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania, and H. Sadauskas, a senior commissioner of the Public Police Road Patrols Service, the Police Department under the Ministry of the Interior.

V

At the court hearing, the representative of the party concerned P. Petkevičius virtually reiterated the explanations presented in writing.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

1. On 18 July 1994, the Seimas passed the Law “On Amending and Supplementing the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the Republic of Lithuania”. By means of Article 71 of the said law the CAVL was supplemented with Article 1302 entitled “Systematic Violation of the Road Traffic Rules by Vehicle Drivers” which provides:

For systematic violation of the Road Traffic Rules, i.e. the commission of several violations provided for in the second, third, fourth and fifth paragraphs of Article 124, the first, third and fifth paragraphs of Article 1241 and Article 125 of this Code in the course of one year, the sum of points given for which is ten and more

the drivers shall be deprived of the right to drive a vehicle for one year.

Note. In the course of the imposition of the administrative penalty, the violation shall also be assessed in points: for the violation provided for in the second paragraph of Article 124 of this Code—one point, the third paragraph—four points, the fourth paragraph—six points, the fifth paragraph—eight points, the first paragraph of Article 1241—four points, the third paragraph—four points, the fifth paragraph—eight points and Article 125—eight points.”

The petitioner doubts whether Article 1302 of the CAVL (wording of 18 July 1994) is in compliance with Paragraph 5 of Article 31 of the Constitution.

2. On 17 February 2000, the Seimas adopted the Law “On Amending and Supplementing the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the Republic of Lithuania” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2000, No. 22-552). By means of Article 165 of the said law Article 1302 of the CAVL was amended and supplemented.

Subsequent to the petition of the petitioner, the Constitutional Court will investigate whether Article 1302 of the CAVL (wording of 18 July 1994) is in compliance with Paragraph 5 of Article 31 of the Constitution.

3. Paragraph 5 of Article 31 of the Constitution provides: “No person may be punished for the same offence twice.”

This provision of the Constitution, as well as the norms of other paragraphs of Article 31 of the Constitution, is designated for the guaranteeing of the implementation of the principles of justice in criminal proceedings (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 10 February 2000).

Alongside, it needs to be noted that the provision of Paragraph 5 of Article 31 of the Constitution reflects the principle non bis in idem: no person may be punished for the same violation of law twice. The aforesaid principle does not mean that different types of liability may not be applied to a person at all for a violation of law and that he may not be imposed the main and additional punishment for an offence and that he may not be imposed the main and additional penalty for an administrative violation of law.

4. The wording “for the commission of several violations <…> in the course of one year the sum of points given for which is ten and more the drivers shall be deprived of the right to drive a vehicle for one year” as employed in Article 1302 of the CAVL (wording of 18 July 1994) might produce an impression that it provides for an individual violation of administrative law which is composed of the entirety of the violations of the Road Traffic Rules committed in the course of one year. However, while one construes the content of the legal treatment established in the impugned article, it needs to be noted that the wording “in the course of the imposition of the administrative penalty, the violation shall also be assessed in points” used in the note to the article means that the said article does not provide for an individual violation of the Road Traffic Rules: it provides for an additional sanction for the last violation of the Road Traffic Rules in cases when the person, in the course of one year, commits several violations provided for in Paragraphs 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Article 124, Paragraphs 1, 3 and 5 of Article 1241 and Article 125 of the CAVL the sum of points given for which is ten and more. For every of these violations the person is punished according to respective articles (paragraphs thereof) of the CAVL. For the last of these violations the person is brought to administrative liability according to a respective article (paragraph thereof) of the CAVL, while under Article 1302 of the CAVL a sanction is applied to him as well, i.e. he is deprived of the right to drive a vehicle for one year.

5. The assessment of violations of the Road Traffic Rules in points is not an administrative penalty. Under the legal treatment established in the CAVL, the person who has committed the last violation provided for in Article 1302 of the CAVL (wording of 18 July 1994) is punished by the main administrative penalty (a fine) according to a respective article (paragraph thereof) of the CAVL as well as by an additional administrative penalty under Article 1302 of the CAVL. Thus, the legal treatment established in Article 1302 of the CAVL (wording of 18 July 1994) does not mean that the person is being punished for the same deed, i.e. the violation of law for which he has been punished by an administrative penalty, twice. If interpreted in such a manner, the legal treatment established in the impugned article in the CAVL does not violate the principle non bis in idem.

6. On the grounds of the arguments set forth, it should be concluded that Article 1302 of the CAVL (wording of 18 July 1994) is in compliance with Paragraph 5 of Article 31 of the Constitution.

Conforming to Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 53, 54, 55 and 56 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania gives the following

ruling:

To recognise that Article 1302 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the Republic of Lithuania (wording of 18 July 1994) is in compliance with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and not subject to appeal.

The ruling is pronounced in the name of the Republic of Lithuania.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:

 

Egidijus Jarašiūnas       Egidijus Kūris      Zigmas Levickis

 

Augustinas Normantas       Vladas Pavilonis       Jonas Prapiestis

 

Vytautas Sinkevičius       Stasys Stačiokas       Teodora Staugaitienė