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Digital Drive: Phuket police drop licence seizures in first move toward tech-based policing

Digital Drive: Phuket police drop licence seizures in first move toward tech-based policing

PHUKET: Come next Friday (Sept 20) police across Phuket will cease the decades-old practice of seizing driver’s licences of motorists caught breaking traffic laws in a policy shift ahead of rolling out major amendments made to the Land Traffic Act, which had been in effect unchanged since 1979.

By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Saturday 14 September 2019, 09:00AM

A Traffic Police officer holds up a digital driver’s licence, to be recognised by police from next Friday (Sept 20). Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

A Traffic Police officer holds up a digital driver’s licence, to be recognised by police from next Friday (Sept 20). Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

The new Traffic Act amendments also allow for a points system to be finally implemented under which drivers are granted 12 points, from which demerit points for traffic violations are deducted. The number of points to be deducted will depend on the severity of the violation.

Losing all 12 points, which are restored each calendar year, will lead to licence suspension for 90 days, while three suspensions will lead to a one-year suspension.

However, the points system – which has received very strong support from road-safety advocates – will not be rolled out in the immediate future, said Phuket Provincial Police Traffic Chief Col Phakin Na Ranong.

“The points system is not so clear for now. We must wait for the Royal Thai Police in Bangkok to confirm more about this in detail,” he added.

Regardless, Col Phakin strongly supported the new traffic measures, saying, “The fines are so clear and the points system will change traffic behavior, and force people to be better drivers on the road.”

Col Phakin welcomed even the first step in not seizing driver’s licences, noting that the policy had little effect anyway.

“I think it is a good idea. Some people like to play games. They don’t come to pay the fine and leave their licence behind. There are a lot of driver’s licences still at police stations waiting to be collected,” Col Phakin explained.

Also from next Friday police will start recognising digital driver’s licences presented on phones through the “DLT QR LICENCE” app, Col Phakin also confirmed.

However, he stressed that drivers who have yet to install the DLT app on their phones will still need to carry their actual licences.

“This especially applies to foreigners (mostly tourists) who can’t add their licences to this app. It would be better that they carry their licences with them,” he said.

The app (available on Google Play here and Apple’s App Store here) recognises only licences issued by the DLT.



Traffic Police from all police stations across Phuket have undergone training in Surat Thani this week to make sure the policy is applied uniformly, he added.

“After they come back, they can train other officers at their own police station,” Col Phakin said.

In issuing fines, Col Phakin explained, “Officers are to ask to see the driver’s licence and record its details in the police fine book, and hand it back to driver.

“Police will still issue the fine on paper and hand it to the driver to pay. A copy of this record will be entered into the traffic police network, which is connected to the DLT national database,” he added.

Drivers who fail to pay outstanding fines will not be able to renew their annual vehicle tax until the fines are paid, Col Phakin stressed.

However, he added, “It is now much more convenient to pay fines. They can be paid at any police station, at any Krungthai Bank branch, ATM or through the bank’s mobile banking app ‘NEXT’ or at any Boontuem (stand-alone bill payment) machines.”

With fines now nationally centralised, police stations no longer have any discretion to levy different amounts than other police stations, as previously allowed under the wording in the law of fines “up to” specified amounts.

Karon Police Deputy Chief Lt Col Prateung Ponmana, the Traffic Police Chief for the Karon area, confirmed, “The fines are now set at exact amounts. All police throughout the country must follow these rates, which are the same as the maximums set in 2016.”

Of note, the DLT QR LICENCE app does not show the amounts charged as fines.

To see a full list of the fines in Thai, click here.

The controversial issue car rental agents being held responsible for traffic fines incurred by customers raised sincere concerns when the now-defunct National Legislative Assembly (NLA) passed the Traffic Act amendments in January – by 138 votes for, to one against.

In passing the bill, the NLA finally agreed that the vehicle rental company must inform police and supply them with evidence within 30 days if a client is found violating traffic laws.

Failure to do so means a firm will have to pay five times the maximum fine on behalf of their client, reported the Bangkok Post earlier this year. (See story here.)

On this point, Phuket Provincial Police Traffic Chief Col Phakin declined to comment, noting that he thought it prudent to wait for his superiors in Bangkok to confirm by police order first.

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CaptainJack69 | 15 September 2019 - 13:18:05

Of note, the app. only works with newer licenses that have a QR code on them. If your license is more than, what, a year old, you're out of luck.

Steve wooly | 15 September 2019 - 06:51:48

can't see the point of this as half the people round here (Kathu ) don't have driving licences anyway, many don't even have licence plates on their vehicles and they certainly don't follow the rules, how are you going to implement a points system on a non existent licence 

Kurt | 14 September 2019 - 15:20:22

Good to drop that driving license seizure thing. Was not fair anyway, as 30+ % of the thai on the road not even have a driving license. (according BangkokPost, a few months ago)

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