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Senator Lambert Brown is urging the Government to develop an address database of all drivers’ licence holders as a means of easily locating traffic violators.

The move, he said, will ensure that traffic offenders pay their fines and reduce the levels of delinquency within the system.

“I believe that in the future, what we need to be doing is seeking to be able to tie down the addresses of applicants for drivers’ licences because that is who we are going to target in the ticketing system,” Mr. Brown said.

The Senator, who was making his contribution to the debate on the Road Traffic (Temporary Ticket Amnesty) Act 2012 in the Upper House on May 3, suggested that the Ministry of National Security could be charged with verifying the authenticity of the addresses.

“The Ministry should consider bringing in legislation that requires that there be truth in the address. Maybe we should consider a requirement in the law that those who change an address make a report to the tax office within 90 days of that change. If you commit an offence and the audit team cannot find you when you don’t pay your fine, then the penalty for failing to report the correct address should be such that it makes everybody comply with the reporting requirements,” he stated. 

The Bill provides a six-month amnesty for the collection of billions in unpaid and unadjudicated traffic tickets issued to motorists by the police, up to September 20, 2010.

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.

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, who piloted the bill, said that the amnesty will reduce the backlog in the court system.

He said that given the fact that the traffic tickets will be older than 21 days, it would mean that they must all be processed in the courts, which would “overwhelm the already severely overburdened court system.”

While supporting the amnesty, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, urged that the Government move to address “the fundamental ills of the traffic ticketing system."

“It is not a matter of just simply giving amnesty upon amnesty with additional punishments or not, but that we do look at ensuring that we don’t once again find ourselves in this state in five years time, that is, with a backlog of a million traffic tickets issued,  and $2 billion in fines outstanding,” Senator Johnson Smith said.

Senator Wentworth Skeffery pointed to the importance of having an ongoing public education programme during the amnesty period.

“We must let (people) know the importance of obeying the rules and let them know that they are getting one more chance and in effect, if you are caught again, then the sanctions will be even greater,” Senator Skeffery said.

The Bill was passed in the Senate without any amendments.

           

By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter