The Government is going after some $2 billion it is owed in outstanding traffic fines over the next six months.
The process will be facilitated through the Road Traffic (Temporary Ticket Amnesty) Act, 2012, which was passed on April 24 in the House of Representatives.
Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, who opened the debate, said that because of the deficiencies in the old trafficking system the police and the courts have not been able to fully and effectively enforce compliance with the Road Traffic Act.
“As a consequence, there has been an extraordinary accumulation of a backlog of traffic tickets as traffic offenders have failed to either pay their fines for traffic violation at the offices of Tax Administration Jamaica or to have their matters addressed by the courts,” Mr. Bunting said.
He is hoping that through the bill, which provides a six-month amnesty for the collection of unpaid and unadjudicated traffic tickets issued to motorists by the police, up to September 20, 2010, the outstanding amounts will be collected.
He cautioned however, “not to have unrealistic expectations of what this measure will bring in…because it is really a new initiative and it is hard to predict how successful it will be."
Under the proposed amnesty, the ticket holder will not be liable to be convicted of the offence for which he has paid the outstanding traffic fine, and proceedings shall not be taken against him or her for that offence.
Also, no demerit points shall be recorded against the licence of that person, and any warrant that has been issued by the Resident Magistrate or a Justice of the Peace on account of that offence, or court appearance to answer any charge relating thereto, shall be null and void and of no effect.
The Security Minister also noted that there is still work to be done to ensure smooth implementation of the amnesty while adding that a brief public education campaign will have to be undertaken before it is implemented.
Responding to a concern raised by Opposition Member of Parliament for North Central Clarendon, Pearnel Charles, that persons, who break the law would not “face the full force of it,” Mr. Bunting said serious traffic offences will not be covered under the amnesty.
“Concerns have been raised that the amnesty would provide relief to those motorists that have committed serious offences such as dangerous driving and who obviously constitute a danger to other users of the road whether motorists or pedestrians. Please be reminded that such offences are not ticketable offences and will not be covered by the amnesty,” the Security Minister stated.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, said he supported the objectives of the Bill, stating that the amnesty does not take away the right of the person to challenge a ticket given.
The Bill was passed without amendments.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter