Disorder in the (traffic) court

Dr Fatemah Al-Bader

“Police are looking for a hit-and-run motorist for running over an Egyptian while crossing a motorway… It is reported that the motorist was driving at a very high speed and the victim’s body was dismembered.” “An Egyptian child died in a hit-and-run accident that occurred… They found the young girl lying in a pool of her blood and checked her to realize she was dead.” “A Kuwaiti police officer was killed and five others wounded… when a hit-and-run driver collided with them at a checkpoint in the capital, Kuwait City.”


These are but a few of many more excerpts from official Kuwaiti news outlets, detailing the severity of hit-and-runs this country faces when compared to others. Almost daily, one can find an article relaying a car accident occurring somewhere in the State of Kuwait, in mass numbers. It is no wonder that Kuwait witnesses an accident every 10 minutes. The amount of reckless driving in this country is abysmal. What is to blame, then, for the surge in car accidents and the disrespect for the rule of law in Kuwait?


The answer seems to lie within the Kuwaiti Traffic Laws, namely Law No. 76/1976. While educating the Kuwaiti people on the traffic laws is important, so long as the laws are not strict enough to deter drivers from violating the law, no amount of education will suffice, thereby defeating the purpose of why we have laws to begin with.


Law No. 76/1976 is too lenient to deter any driver from violating traffic laws. Take, for instance, the laws related to minor hit-and-runs. Even where major hit-and-runs occur, like those described above, people still flee the scene of a crime, resulting in a society where laws are not respected. Specific to minor hit-and-runs, the Kuwaiti traffic laws do provide that drivers must stop at the scene of a crime and inform police immediately upon causing an accident. If drivers do not stop, they face a penalty of imprisonment not exceeding six months and/or a fine not exceeding KD 500 (about $1,700). At first glance, this sounds reasonable and to the standards expected from a democratic society that respects the rule of law. However, the loophole comes in the form of Article 41, which would allow the driver to avoid the aforementioned penalties stemming from minor hit-and-runs with a mere payment of KD 30 (about $100). The contradiction in Article 41 applies equally for all other minor traffic incidents. Herein lies the problem with the Kuwaiti Traffic Laws. In essence, what the Kuwaiti Traffic Law does is allow Kuwaiti drivers charged with violating a minor traffic offense, such as a minor hit-and-run causing no injury to a person, to avoid criminal charges with a mere settlement of KD 30 (about $100).


The time has come to advocate for respect for the rule of law. Such leniency in the legal system will result in corruption and chaos. Without respect for the rule of law, there can be no proper justice system. Laws, such as Article 41, need to be repealed. Instead, Kuwait should focus on laws that would criminalize those who flee the scene of a hit-and-run, no matter how minor, in order to guarantee that the people of Kuwait understand that they will be held accountable for their actions.

Consequences should result in proper punishment, rather than a slap-on-the-wrist in the form of a KD 30 fine. As such, I ask that Article 41 be repealed, in order to ensure that the victim does not suffer the consequences of allowing the alleged perpetrator to get off without punishment.

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The time has come to advocate for respect for the rule of law. Such leniency in the legal system will result in corruption and chaos. Without respect for the rule of law, there can be no proper justice system. Laws, such as Article 41, need to be repealed. Instead, Kuwait should focus on laws that would criminalize those who flee the scene of a hit-and-run, no matter how minor, in order to guarantee that the people of Kuwait understand that they will be held accountable for their actions.

Consequences should result in proper punishment, rather than a slap-on-the-wrist in the form of a KD 30 fine. As such, I ask that Article 41 be repealed, in order to ensure that the victim does not suffer the consequences of allowing the alleged perpetrator to get off without punishment.

By Dr Fatemah Al-Bader