Tuesday 21 May, 2019

MOWT: Double demerits for Carnival under new system

Drivers may receive double the demerit points if they commit traffic violations during the Carnival period, once the new Demerit Points System is activated.

Speaking during a presentation on the Amended Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act on February 18, 2019, Director of Legal Services at the Ministry of Works and Transport, Marvin Gonsalves, said once legislation for the Demerit Points System is enacted, drivers who commit certain infractions will be fined and a number of demerits would be recorded on their licenses. 

However, Gonzalves said the Ministry can also double the number of demerit points for traffic offences and violations over a 10-day period, such as Carnival, as listed in the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act.

He said this would be administered during a period of heightened activity, such as Carnival.

“When this system comes into effect, our Carnival period for 10 days will be declared…it means that if a driver is ticketed for an offence that carried five demerits under normal circumstanes, during that period …it will carry 10 demerit points.”

“It’s all geared towards ensuring that people monitor and stay within the confines of the law, notwithstanding the fact that it might be a period of excitement and happiness.”

Gonsalves said that the notice will be advertised in the Gazette and at least one daily newspaper.

Multiple demerits? Violation with highest demerit points will be recorded

Gonsalves added that in order to ensure that rogue officers don’t issue multiple tickets for violations that carry demerits, the violation that attracts the highest number of demerits will be put on record (except in cases of breaking a red light or speeding).

It is the violation that carries the highest demerit that will be put on the driver’s license," he said.

Gonzales warned however that if the violation includes breaking a red light and exceeding the speed limit, those demerits will be recorded.

“They are two very serious violations…if the violations include breaking a red light or driving over the speed limit the driver will be given both demerits for those violations,” he said.

Gonsalves added that once a driver’s license is suspended, it will have ‘no effect’ and officers will be able to check whether or not the license is active using electronic systems.

“Law enforcement officers will find it very easy to detect when a driver is driving while suspended,” he said.

Gonsalves said there tends to be ‘habitual offenders’ who don’t feel compelled to pay their fixed penalties or ‘modify their behaviour on the roads’.

"The demerit system is intended to track the behaviour of motorists by the imposition of points. Once they are fined or held by the court for a traffic violation, the requisite points would be removed," he said. 

Gonsalves added that if a driver fails to pay a fixed penalty, administrative sanctions would be established on his/her license and the requisite number of demerit points would be placed on his/her driver’s permit.


Breakdown of demerit points

Under the Demerit Points System, if a newly licensed driver accumulates seven or more demerit points over a year, the driver’s permit will be suspended for one year.

Regarding an experienced driver, there would be a system of demerits and associated suspensions:

- More than 10 but less than 14 Demerits: Six-month suspension

- More than 14 but less than 20 Demerits: One-year suspension

- More than 20 Demerits: Two-year suspension

When the system comes into effect, a driver will be able to go onto the Ministry’s website to check whether demerits were put onto their records.


Crackdown on fake license plates coming

Gonsalves said the Ministry is also aware of the issues involving the creation of fake license plates and is seeking to address them.

He said the issue of fake number plates is a part of the country’s crime system and said soon there will be an electronic verification system for license plates on the road. Soon, only authorised centres will be able to produce number plates.

“The MOWT doesn’t have the capacity to produce number plates…what we’re hoping to do is establish a public-private partnership with an approved source to produce verified number plates,” he said.


Handheld ticketing devices coming soon

Gonsalves added that the Ministry is arranging for a batch of 40 handheld ticketing devices to be procured so as to immediately issue tickets to errant drivers. 

The systems would be connected to the Ministry Traffic Enforcement Centre and copies of the ticket would be electronically sent to the Licensing Office for their records.

“This system will create an opportunity for mobile handheld devices to be used in place of ticket books. The intention is to provide or deploy, 40 handheld devices where a ticket is issued via a device."

“Once that is issued, the TT Post will automatically get their copy, the Licensing Office will automatically get their copy, all in electronic format,” he said.


About the Demerit Points System

The Demerit Points System will see the proposed introduction of the demerit points system will see certain traffic offences and traffic violations carrying prescribed demerit points, in addition to other stipulated penalties.

The Ministry said the proposed points to be allotted for every violation will be in keeping with international standards for similar types of offences. The points would range from two, which is generally the minimum to 14, which is the maximum.

See also: 10 things to know about the Demerit Points System: https://bit.ly/2GPvmXd

To read the amended Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act in full see here: https://bit.ly/2NcQXdo

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