disqualification from driving would be more appropriate to the offence committed following the announced reform of the Penal Code
Article 49 of the future Belgian Criminal Code would regulate the provisions relating to driving disqualifications in Belgium. At present, driving disqualifications can be imposed as an accessory, optional or mandatory penalty, in accordance with Article 38 of the Road Traffic Police Act. However, under the new Criminal Code, a general driving disqualification will be introduced as a ‘mirror penalty’. This means that the disqualification will be linked to the punishable acts, in particular when the vehicle has been used to commit an offence or to flee after the offence. The judge will also have the power to moderate this penalty if he or she considers it to be disproportionate. In addition, there will be a separate offence for failure to comply with the disqualification order. The enforcement court will also be able to modify a driving disqualification sentence that has become final. The formalities for enforcing a driving disqualification will be determined by the King.
The Belgian Minister of Justice, Vincent Van Quickenborne, has a proposal for a new Criminal Code. This proposal has been approved by the Council of Ministers and aims to modernise the Belgian Penal Code, which dates from 1867. The new Penal Code aims to take account of current societal standards and to apply criminal law in a more humane, simple and uniform manner.
The new Penal Code divides criminal provisions into eight penalty levels, with the lightest penalties falling under level 1 and the heaviest penalties under level 8. Prison sentences are only provided for offences in levels 3 to 8. For less serious offences, other penalties such as work, fines, probation or confiscation may be imposed.
The new Penal Code also offers a wider range of penalties, such as compulsory treatment involving deprivation of liberty, fines based on profits made, driving bans in cases other than road traffic offences, professional bans in cases of serious abuse of the profession, and probation with measures such as aggression control courses or extended follow-up after the end of the sentence.
The new Penal Code abolishes the division between offences, misdemeanours and felonies, as well as certain archaic provisions that are no longer relevant. It also introduces new provisions to combat domestic violence, discrimination and incitement to suicide. Specific rules have also been introduced for legal entities.
The aim of this reform of the Penal Code is to make justice swifter, more humane and firmer, by adapting offences and sentence amounts to contemporary standards and promoting tailor-made sentences.