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Belgium makes progress towards points-based driving licence

14:44 24/11/2022

Belgium could move to a points-based driving licence, as discussions in government draw closer to ending in agreement.

A points-based licence, meaning a system whereby a person’s driving licence is cancelled or suspended based on the number of points accumulated from traffic offences over a period of time, has been talked about for years in Belgium.

Belgium’s traffic institute Vias has argued that points-based driving licences are needed in order to implement stricter punishments for people who commit repeated traffic offences and reduce the number of road deaths.

Supporters of the measure say that Belgium’s current system encourages repeat offenders.

One driving instructor told RTBF that he already acts with his pupils as if they could lose points, in order to make them aware of the dangers and responsibility that come with driving.

The instructor noted that the current system results in people who already have their licences repeatedly retaking tests: “There are more failed drivers who reapply than those who come for the first time.”

Benoît Godart, spokesman for Vias, said that the current system also relies heavily on fining people without further consequences, despite repeat offences.

“In Belgium, you can commit certain offences every day and pay an immediate fine without ever being bothered,” Godart said.

"To put an end to impunity, it is felt that the system should be followed by very regular checks."

In France, a point system has existed since 1992 and the results have been positive.

But despite support, much remains to be decided before writing any formal bill, including which offences would be concerned, how automatically they would be penalised and whether judges should be involved in decisions.

Some also questioned whether professional drivers would be included in the same system, or a different one.

Federal mobility minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) is leading the project, together with justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (VLD) and interior minister Annelies Verlinden (CD&V).

Not every political party is equally convinced that a point-based system is the answer, but discussions are progressing and the aim is to present a bill sometime in 2023.

Written by Helen Lyons