A Bill granting a three-month amnesty on unpaid or unadjudicated traffic tickets issued to motorists by the police up to September 20, 2010, was passed in the Senate on Thursday (November 24).
Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson, who piloted the Road Traffic (Temporary Ticket Amnesty) Act 2011, commented that the Bill would facilitate the collection of the backlog of unpaid and unadjudicated tickets in the hands of the Jamaican public.
He noted that the Ministry of National Security and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) introduced a new trafficking ticketing system on September 21, 2010, but because of deficiencies in the old system, the JCF and the courts have not been able to fully enforce compliance with the Road Traffic Act.
Senator Nelson added that, as a consequence, there has been an accumulating backlog of traffic tickets, as traffic offenders have either failed to pay the fines for traffic violations at the Tax Administration offices, or have the matters addressed by the courts, with virtual impunity. It is estimated that there are more than one million traffic tickets outstanding, and fines totalling in excess of $2 billion.
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, on account of the offence for which that person has paid the outstanding fine, and any warrant that has been issued by the Resident Magistrate, or a Justice of the Peace, on account of an offence for which that person has not paid the outstanding traffic fine or appeared in Court to answer any charge relating thereto, shall be null and void and of no effect.
“I want to assure you that this Act is not intended to support moral hazards. Be assured that those motorists who do not avail themselves of the amnesty will be vigorously pursued by the law,” Senator Nelson said.
Opposition Senator K.D. Knight supported the legislation, but suggested that some of the motorists should not be allowed to continue to operate a motor vehicle.
“Some of the tickets will relate to serious offences, and then they will be, in a sense, getting away with it and become real hazards to other road users,” Senator Knight said.
Senator Nelson responded that there had to be some kind of incentive for people to come in and make the payments.
“If a man hasn’t paid his ticket in two years, to ask him to come in, there has to be an incentive and, failing that, some kind of really severe sanction,” Senator Nelson said.
The Bill was passed without any amendments.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter