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May 3, 2013

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Illicit business busted on hiring scapegoat driver

A COMPANY that illegally offered to find a scapegoat to take on a driver's demerits for traffic violations for pay has been shut down and its owner detained and fined, police said yesterday.

The so-called traffic violation consultant business would find scapegoats-for-pay via the Internet, the traffic police said.

Three suspects nabbed in the case will be detained for 10 days and each fined 200 yuan (US$32.45), said police.

Ni Jinchao, an officer who supervised the bust of the first case of its kind in the city since a tougher traffic law was enacted this year, said the business is driven by drivers' fears of having their license suspended after 12 points are deducted.

"It's a bad example that other drivers may follow," said Ni.

The illegal business exploits a loophole in the system since surveillance cameras capture only the plate number of the vehicle, not the driver's identity.

While usually the vehicle's owner - who receives the notice - comes in to pay the fine, the person who shows up to take the punishment might be another driver.

The suspect that police say owned the illicit business, surnamed Chen, had rented a place downtown on Guoquan Road N. in March to conduct his searches for other drivers to replace actual traffic violators, said the police.

On April 26, a driver surnamed Liu, who said all his points were going to be deducted, paid Chen 5,000 yuan to have another driver, surnamed Ling, serve as a scapegoat.

Ling agreed, for payment of 2,700 yuan, to go to the traffic police for the punishment that afternoon.

Ling, Chen and a middleman were caught, after police received a tip, while conducting their transaction at a hotel. Liu ended up losing his license.

Police said drivers who are willing to serve as scapegoats were those with licenses but who do not have cars or seldom drive.

Drivers face tougher punishments starting this year with a new traffic regulation that aims to save lives and cut crashes by reducing reckless driving such as speeding, drunk driving and driving while fatigued.

Each driver has 12 points and the license is suspended once all the points are deducted.

Drivers must go to driving school and pass tests before claiming their licenses again, according to traffic laws.


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