Parliament approved the revision of the Federal Road Traffic Act (RTA) in the 2023 spring session. Various amendments to the LCR will come into force in stages over the next few years.

The first significant changes to the LCR will come into force on October1, 2023.

The changes that will have a direct impact on drivers’ lives are reviewed below:

Trial driver’s license

According to Art. 15a al. 1 LCR, a driver’s license obtained for the first time for a motorcycle or motor car is issued on a trial basis. The probationary period is three years.

Until October1 , 2023, when the holder of a probationary driver’s license committed an offence, whether deemed slight, moderately serious or serious, the probationary period was automatically extended by one year (art. 15a para. 3 aLCR). If the holder committed a second offence resulting in the withdrawal of the driver’s license, the trial driving licence lapsed, regardless of the seriousness of the offence (art. 15a para. 4 aLCR).

Henceforth, only moderately serious or serious offences will result in an extension of the probationary period by one year (art. 15a para. 3 LCR). Similarly, a probationary driving licence is cancelled only if the second offence leading to a withdrawal is considered to be moderately serious or serious (art. 15a para. 4 SVG). As a reminder, art. 16a to 16c LCR define the seriousness of the offence.

Hit-and-run offences

According to Art. 90 al. 3 aLCR, the offence of hit-and-run driving, i.e. particularly heavy speeding, carried a custodial sentence of between one and four years. When the speed limit exceeded a certain threshold, the offender was automatically subject to art. 90 para. 3 aLCR. This rigidity prevented the judge from sentencing the perpetrator to less than one year, regardless of the circumstances of the case.

Henceforth, the minimum sentence of one year may be reduced in the presence of a mitigating circumstance in accordance with art. 48 StGB, in particular if the perpetrator acted out of an honourable motive (art. 90 para. 3bis StGB). In addition, the judge may also sentence the offender to a term of less than one year, or even to a pecuniary penalty, if he or she has not been convicted in the ten years preceding the offence of a traffic crime or misdemeanor that has seriously endangered the safety of third parties or resulted in the injury or death of third parties (art. 90 al. 3ter CP). In addition, exceeding the speed limit will not automatically trigger the application of the
art. 90 para. 3 LCR.

The legislator has also modified the rules governing offences committed by emergency services (fire, health, police or customs services). Until now, the judge had the option of mitigating the penalty if the driver of an emergency service failed to exercise the caution required by the circumstances, or failed to give the necessary warning signals during an official emergency run. From October1, 2023, the judge must reduce the penalty (art. 100 ch. 4 LCR). In cases of speeding during urgent or tactically necessary official runs, the judge should not base his decision on the maximum speed authorized on the section used by the driver, but on the difference between his speed and that which would have been appropriate for the intervention (art. 100 ch. 5 LCR).

Corporate liability for fines

The Federal Court had ruled that a legal entity could be the owner of a vehicle within the meaning of art. 6 of the Federal Law on Fines (LAO). However, if the legal entity did not report the actual driver at the time of the offence, it could not bear the fine, for lack of a sufficient legal basis (ATF 144 I 242).

From October1, 2023, keeper liability will no longer apply only to natural persons. Legal entities may be directly sanctioned if they fail to disclose the identity of the driver of the vehicle at the time of the offence (art. 7 para. 1 LAO).

Further packages of measures will be introduced progressively by the Federal Council.

Until then, we wish you a safe journey!

Leave a Reply