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08.05
2018

The Court Examined the Constitutionality of Certain Provisions of the Contravention Code

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On Tuesday, 8 May 2018, the Constitutional Court of Moldova delivered a judgment on the constitutionality of the text "fine of 400 to 500 conventional units or community service for a period of 20 to 40 hours or 15 days of contravention arrest" of the Article 233 (3) of the Contravention Code.

Circumstances of the case
The exception of unconstitutionality underlying this case was raised by the attorney Gheorghe Tcaci, in a pending trial before the Court of Law of Ungheni. According to him, drink-driving a vehicle that does not require a driving license is sanctioned more severely than drink-driving a vehicle requiring a license, and this fact represents an unjustified differentiated treatment.

Court's assessment:
The Court examined this exception of unconstitutionality in the light of Articles 16, 25 and 46 of the Constitution: equality of citizens, the right to liberty and the right to property.

The Court acknowledged that the penalties which are applicable to vehicle drivers for whom a driving license is not required are in compliance with the standards on the quality of law.

The Court noted that the application of the range of penalties for drink-driving vehicles with no obligation to have a driving license may contribute to the safety of road traffic and to the protection of the life and health of people. The Court observed that these particular purposes may be subsumed at least into the following general legitimate aims established by Article 54 (2) of the Constitution: ensuring public order and protecting the rights, freedoms and dignity of others.           

The Court held that both categories of drivers, i.e. those driving vehicles with driving license required and those driving vehicles with no driving license required, must equally comply with the Road Traffic Regulation, abstain from drink driving and from endangering other road users.

However, the Court found that some of the risks generated by driving vehicles with no driving license required (bicycle, pedestrian-controlled tractor, animal drawn vehicles etc.) may be lower than the risks generated by vehicles with a driving license required. Moreover, the Court established that, according to the challenged provisions, riding a bicycle while drunk or drink-driving a pedestrian-controlled tractor may be also punished by detention, while a person driving a car or a truck while drunk may only get a fine.

From this perspective, the Court considered it is beyond any rational and reasonable legal ground to penalize more severely a person that, while drunk, drives a vehicle for which there is no obligation to hold a driving license than a person drink-driving a vehicle requiring a driving license. In addition to being deprived of the right to drive in case of vehicles with a driving license required, there is nothing which may argue a distinction between these two categories and the application of a discriminatory treatment in case of persons who drive vehicles with a driving license required.

In sum, the Court found that the disproportionate legal treatment of these two categories of subjects is contrary to Article 16 in conjunction with Articles 25 and 46 of the Constitution.

Conclusions of the Court
Stemming from the above mentioned, the Court partially admitted the exception of unconstitutionality raised by the lawyer Mr. Gheorghe Tcaci, in a pending trial before Court of Law of Ungheni.

The Court declared unconstitutional the text „fine of 400 to 500 conventional units or community service for a period of 20 to 40 hours or 15 days of contravention arrest" of the Article 233 (3) of the Contravention Code.

The Court ruled that till the amendment of the law, in the case of contravention provided by Article 233 (3) of the Contravention Code, there shall apply the fine provided by paragraph 1 of the same article.

This judgment is final, it cannot be appealed, it shall enter into force on the date of its adoption, and it shall be published in the Official Journal of Moldova.

The full reasoning may be consulted in the Judgment of the Constitutional Court of Moldova.

This is an English language courtesy translation of the original press-release in Romanian language.

 
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