Courts in southern Sweden have recently thrown out a number of cases involving speed demons in which there is ample evidence to show they were driving too fast.
So far, five speeders have been acquitted, including one who was clocked driving 159 km/h in a zone with a maximum speed of 100 km/h.
“It is a legal issue, an oversight,” Fredrik Blommé, a notary with the Ystad District court in southern Sweden told the Skånska Dagbladet daily.
The reason courts have been letting speeders off the hook stems from last year’s shuttering of the Swedish Road Administration (Vägverket) and the creation of the new Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket).
When the Road Administration was shuttered in April of last year, wording in Sweden’s traffic laws was changed to so that the new Transport Administration became responsible for issuing Sweden’s traffic regulations.
However, nowhere in the law does it state that the Road Administration’s regulations should remain vaild after the Transport Administration assumed responsibility for the rules.
As a result, lawyers are now uncertain as to whether or not its possible to convict someone of speeding.
“Normally, it would have been established that, even though the Road Administration ceased to exist, their regulations would continue to apply,” Blommé told the newspaper.
As a result of the oversight, Blommé has dismissed three speeding cases this week, and more cases have been reported around the region.
“It violates legal principal to sentence someone who has broken the Road Administration’s regulations when it says in the law that the Transport Administration has the authority,” he told the TT new agency.
The acquittals cited an appeals court ruling in which a taxi driver was acquitted for violating record-keeping rules issued by the old Road Administration.
But on January 1st, 2009, the the rules changed, with the Road Administration being replaced by the Transport Administration in the texts.
However, because no interim provisions were drawn up to bridge the changes, the driver was freed for failing to abide by the rules issued by the Road Administration.
Göran Hellstrand, a prosecutor who handles traffic issues in Malmö, however argues the law is still very much intact. He said the old agency has issued regulations that are valid until further notice.
“Whoever violates those regulations will get punished,” he told TT.
But what this all means for the thousands of perhaps wrongly convicted speedsters, remains unclear.
However, the General Counsel at the Transport Administration, Charlotta Lindmark, deters people from disregarding the rules, despite the discovery of the loophole.
“All speed limits still apply on our public roads and one is not allowed to violate them,” she told TT.
“That concerns regulations that the Transport Administration has issued, but also those issued by the Road Administration, which it was called before.”