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Gov't to tighten warrant system for traffic violators

Thursday, October 11, 2018

MINISTER of Justice Delroy Chuck says the Government will be tightening the system for the issuing of arrest warrants for traffic violations.

Speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, he noted that of the 65,195 new cases which were listed in the Corporate Area Traffic Court for the period January to June 2018, 88 per cent resulted in warrants.

“Many of these warrants have not yet been issued, largely because of the vast amount of time consumed in preparing these warrants, but more significantly, there has historically been a gap in the information systems between the tax office and the courts,” Chuck said.

He said the court is unable to confirm whether the traffic tickets were paid at the tax office, and so there tends to be a reluctance to proceed with the warrants.

This gap, Chuck said, enables individuals to accumulate a large number of traffic tickets without sanctions being imposed.

He noted that the four entities involved (courts, tax office, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the Island Traffic Authority) fall under four different ministries, and so greater collaboration is necessary to bridge this gap and streamline the process.

“Far too many traffic violators get a traffic ticket and throw it away because they know that at the moment, warrants are not being issued. But I would like to send a signal to them, that this is being cleared up, they will soon have their warrants executed; which means that not only will they be charged and arrested but, if necessary, brought back to court to respond to the charge,” the minister said.

Chuck said the Government needs to look at how traffic violators are charged.

“At the moment, we have to catch them and serve them with the ticket. In many countries, you can actually charge a traffic violator by the camera pinpointing the vehicle that is being driven that has violated traffic and you immediately send the charge to that vehicle,” he said.

“But traffic violators now are charged and not the vehicle; so if the vehicle was charged, when they (violators) come to renew [the car licence], then it can't be renewed unless the fines are paid by the owner of the vehicle,” Chuck explained.

He added that this is something being looked at in terms of the Road Traffic Act before it is passed.