Thursday, March 30, 2006

Weird Law : The Road Vehicles (Special Powers) Act

In today's Straits Times, Home section, there's an article titled "Owner innocent? Car used for crime will still be forfeited" . In particular, the article was about Volkswagen Financial Services, who loaned the car to someone who used it to commit crimes. The car was confiscated. Basically, the article talked about how 'if your vehicle is used in a crime, there is no way you can stop the authorities from confiscating it - even if the crime was committed by somebody else' (direct quote from the papers).

In other words, if you loan or lease your car to someone who uses it for a crime, then your car is gone ! The Road Vehicles (Special Powers) Act states that when a vehicle has been used in crimes like robbery and theft, the court 'shall' order it to be forfeited. What this seems to imply, then, that if your car is stolen and used for a crime, then good luck also !

I find this law a bit weird. It's almost as if the vehicle has committed a crime, which obviously makes no sense. What the law actually does is to punish the owners of the vehicle, obstensibly for abetting the criminal.

I'm not sure I like where this line of logic is leading. What this law essentially implies is that people should not lend vehicles to be used in crimes. Nothing wrong yet, but it also implies that people have the absolute ability to gauge whether the person borrowing/loaning the car is going to use it to commit a crime !

I am not a psychic, and although I can conduct some basic background checks on the person, this still does not tell me whether he will use it for illegal purposes. This law assumes that if the criminal has used the car in a crime, I must not have fulfilled my responsibilites, and that I have abetted the criminal. Hogwash. The law is pushing absolute responsibilty for the car onto the car owner.

We must be very careful. The next time we buy anything , we will be held responsible for it. Who knows ? If someone grabs your flowerpot and hurls it down the window, your house may be confiscated. Be afraid, be very afraid.

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