On-The-Spot Fines For Drug Possession Are Now In Effect
On-the-spot fines for drug possession instead of court notices set to revolutionise the system.
As hordes of people start rolling into various Sydney music festivals tonight – New South Wales magistrates can be assured the same volumes won’t be filling up the local court system next week, thanks to on-the-spot fines for drug possession that came into effect Friday night.
Up until January 25th, anyone caught in possession of a small quantity of drugs was faced with the prospect of going to court and getting a criminal record.
But now police can instantly slap them with a $400 fine, a “revolutionary” move to relieve the already over-crowded local courts.
“The government should probably be congratulated because its revolutionary in New South Wales; it means that all of these people who would ordinarily be facing court next week and the week after, after Australia Day festivals, will now be issued with a fine,” Dowson Turfco Lawyers’ Nicholas Stewart said.
“Every day I’m in court and I see the volumes of young offenders on small-time, first-time offences in the courts and it is clogging them up. “This is a move in the right direction - it will move people out of the local court system (so it can) deal with other matters of priority.”
The law was proposed after an expert panel recommended on-the-spot fines as a way of reducing the large volumes of people attending court on small-time drug offences.
It only applies to small quantities, so those caught with more than 0.25 grams of the drug MDMA will still be put before a magistrate and face the full prospect of a criminal record and liability.
And they’ll be charged with trafficking if it’s more than 0.75 grams.
As always, these fines are to act as a deterrent, but it’s yet to be seen whether it’ll actually stop people from taking illicit substances.
“I think we need to focus more on pill-testing we need to look at helping young people understand what they are putting into their bodies,” Mr Stewart said.