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Justice Minister bill on no license driving sparks outrage in France
Driving without a license may no longer be considered a crime in France, as Justice Minister Madame Taubira announced a new bill this Friday that will limit the penalty to a 500 euro fine. Genevieve Jurgensen, founder of the road safety association Ligue contre la violence routière, called the bill a "very bad move," in an interview with RFI's Gilda Di Carli.
"Even if Madame Taubira does not pass the law, the message is terrible," Jurgensen told RFI.
She explains that the message will be: "Well is it really so bad to drive without a license? Is it really so bad to speed? Is it so bad to abuse alcohol while driving, and so on."
Currently, being caught without a license or insurance results in one year in prison and a 15.000 euro fine.
Moreover, the price to obtain a driver's license in France is "very expensive", on average 1,500 euros. But it may be more financially viable to pay the 500 euro fine. "So you can imagine the result," she said.
The objectives are to alleviate an implosion of the prison system and speed up the processing of civil cases.
The issue has got even the Prime minister talking, Manuel Valls said it was an "important text" aimed at "improving the functioning of the civil justice system," during a press conference following a cabinet meeting on Friday.
When asked if she felt the bill would dissuade drivers from driving without a permit, Taubira said that the result would be the same, but the person in question would feel the consequence more quickly.
The current processing time for a typical case lasts typically 10 to 14 months.
The French took to the twitter sphere to express their shock and outrage over the bill. Chris Logeais, supporter for presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, tweeted Thursday that "this woman is a danger for France." He also called the bill an act of "recklessness."
Comedian Cauet tweeted his shock: "driving without a license could be punished by only a fine, while driving whilst speaking on the phone or eating a sandwhich at the wheel could cost you your points."
The mortality rate in France shot up in 2014, for the first time in 12 years.
Jurgensen expressed her dissatisfaction with the government's explanation and response to the rise in deaths on the road.