The treatment of traffic offenses by criminal and administrative law

Are you suspected of committing a traffic offence under the Road Traffic Act 1994 (WVW 1994)? Then it is important to know what steps you can take and how best to defend yourself. In this blog, we explain what the two-way system means, what measures the Public Prosecution Service (OM) and the Central Office for Driving Licences (CBR) can take, and how our lawyers can assist you.

What is the Road Traffic Act 1994 (WVW 1994)?

The WVW 1994 is a Dutch law that regulates traffic on public roads. This law contains provisions on road safety, driver behaviour and enforcement of traffic rules. Violations of this law can lead to both criminal and administrative measures.

OM and CBR’s two-way system

The “two-way system” of the OM and CBR in the context of criminal law concerns the way in which driving behaviour and licensing of drivers who have been involved in offences, such as drink-driving or dangerous driving, are dealt with. This system means that both criminal and administrative law measures can be taken to ensure comprehensive enforcement. Thus, there is a dual approach, so to speak. 

Criminal sanctions by the prosecution

The public prosecutor is responsible for the criminal prosecution of traffic offences and crimes. Here are some of the main measures the OM can request:

  1. Criminal prosecution: The public prosecutor can criminally prosecute drivers who break the law, such as for drink-driving or dangerous driving. This can result in fines, community service or even prison sentences, depending on the severity of the offence.
  2. Driving disqualification: In addition to fines, the judge may, at the request of the public prosecutor, decide to disqualify the driver from driving for a certain period of time. This is a direct criminal sanction designed to reduce the risk of recurrence and is often applied to serious traffic offences.

You will be summoned to appear in court on a certain day. At this hearing, the judge will impose the final penalty on you. In addition to the judge’s final punishment, the CBR can take administrative measures to ensure road safety. The CBR is an independent organisation and is separate from the penalties imposed on you by the judiciary.

Administrative action by CBR

In addition to criminal prosecution by the OM, CBR can take administrative measures to ensure road safety. These measures are aimed at correcting and improving driver behaviour:

  1. Educational measures: CBR may require drivers to take educational measures, such as the Educational Measure Alcohol and Traffic (EMA) or the Educational Measure Behaviour and Traffic (EMG). These courses are designed to make drivers aware of the risks of their behaviour and help them correct it.
  2. Withdrawal of driving licence and fitness to drive examination: CBR has the power to withdraw a driver’s licence and start an examination of fitness to drive. This investigation may result in a temporary or permanent revocation of the driving licence if the driver is found to be unfit to drive.

Differences between criminal sanctions and administrative measures

Criminal sanctions

  • Purpose: to punish the offender and prevent recurrence through deterrence.
  • Procedure: you are summoned to appear in court. At the hearing, the judge determines the final punishment such as fines, community service or imprisonment.

Administrative measures

  • Goal: improve driving behaviour and ensure road safety.
  • Procedure: CBR can impose measures independently, i.e. this is outside the courts, such as requiring educational courses or taking the driving licence for a fitness to drive test.

How do these measures work together?

The two-way system means that criminal and administrative law measures can run in parallel and independently of each other. This means that a driver can be both criminally prosecuted by the public prosecutor and receive administrative sanctions from CBR. The idea behind this is that a combined approach ensures effective road safety enforcement from different angles.

Sample situation

Suppose a driver is caught driving under the influence:

The prosecutor can prosecute this driver and demand a fine or driving disqualification. At the same time, CBR can require this driver to take an EMA course and undergo a driving fitness test. Both bodies work independently but contribute to the same goal: ensuring road safety.

How can we help you?

In this complex system, the lawyer plays a crucial role in defending your rights. Here are some important aspects of the lawyer’s role:

  1. Legal representation

The lawyer represents you during the criminal proceedings. This includes:

  • Legal advice: the lawyer offers expert advice on your rights and obligations, and the best strategy to defend your case.
  • Defence in court: the lawyer advocates for your interests during the court hearing. This may include challenging the charges, presenting evidence and witness statements, and arguing for a reduced sentence.
  • Guidance through the process: the lawyer guides you through the entire legal process, from the initial hearing to the final verdict, making sure you are well-informed every step of the way.
  1. Procedures

The lawyer can investigate whether all procedures have been followed correctly. This includes:

  • Check for procedural errors: the lawyer checks that all legal procedures were followed during your arrest, interrogation and other procedural steps. Errors in procedure can be raised as a defence.
  1. Advice on administrative measures:

Although the lawyer has no direct influence on the CBR’s decisions, he or she can advise on administrative measures:

  • Preparing appeals: the lawyer will help you prepare appeals against decisions made by the CBR, such as the revocation of your driving licence or compulsory participation in courses.
  • Appeals: if mistakes have been made, the lawyer can appeal the CBR’s decisions.
  1. Personal circumstances:

The lawyer can bring in your personal circumstances as mitigating factors in sentencing.


The two-way system of the OM and the CBR is a comprehensive way of dealing with traffic offences, using both criminal sanctions and administrative measures. A lawyer plays an important role in defending your rights in (traffic) offences. From legal representation and monitoring proceedings to ensuring your trial is fair, an experienced lawyer will ensure your best interests are represented. Do you have questions or are you involved in a criminal case? Our lawyers are ready to help you and protect your rights. Contact us for expert legal advice and guidance. 

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