THE DEMERIT POINT SYSTEM and the new traffic ticketing system, expected to be rolled out on Wednesday after the amendments to the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic act is proclaimed on Tuesday, is not intended to punish, but to rehabilitate errant drivers.
So said Marvin Gonzales, director of the legal services unit at the Ministry of Works during a Zoom interview on Monday.
Gonzales, in going over the finer points of the new system, said most traffic violations have been decriminalised, so people may not have the ultimate consequence of jail time.
However, that does not mean that drivers will get away with infringing traffic laws. As Gonzales explained, infringement of the laws resulting in tickets and demerit points could result in fines if a person does not pay their tickets on time, and if someone has too many demerits, suspension of their drivers license for up to two years.
Come Wednesday, people’s behaviour on the nation’s roads will be monitored through the demerit system but all drivers will start with zero demerit points. Gonzales said people with tickets before the courts will now be able to pay half the fine and be discharged of the matter. Other than that, points will only be allocated for offences.
Traffic violations like speeding, unauthorised use of the Priority Bus Route, and driving under the influence of alcohol would result in tickets, and demerit points being added to your driving record.
For new drivers – those who got their drivers’ permits a year ago or less – if they accumulate seven demerit points, their licences could be suspended for a year.
For experienced drivers, people who have a licence for more than one year, if they accumulate between 10 and 20 points, drivers could have their licences suspended for anywhere between six months and two years.
If a person’s licence is suspended, they are notified in writing and will be required to hand over their permit to the Licensing Authority, unless the person can explain why their licence should not be suspended.
Failure to surrender a permit could result in a $5,000 fine and a further disqualification for a year. If a person attempts to driver using the permit, they could be liable to a $1,000 fine or up to a year in prison.
Gonzales said the suspension will be lifted after the period passes, the driver takes part in the driver’s rehabilitation programme approved by the licensing authority and re-sits and passes a driving test and regulation examination. He added, if a person has demerit points on their record it will remain there for two years, provided that there are no further additional points put on the person’s record.
The demerit point system will work hand in hand with the new ticketing system expected to roll out the same time.
The ticketing system promises to provide new platforms and new options to pay for tickets, which include payments at TT Post locations, and cashless transactions where people could pay using credit or debit cards on the internet.
Mobile hand held devices which are to be used to issue tickets electronically will be used in tandem with ticket books and both will be managed by the Traffic Enforcement Centre.
Information on the driver and the violation would be sent to TT Post, the Judiciary and to the police.
Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan said the changes in the ticketing system and the introduction of the demerit system will have a serious and positive effect on the Judiciary, which dealt with a deluge of traffic violations every year.
Newsday was told that of the 160,000 matters which were filed last year, 60 per cent were relating to traffic violations.
“This is not a money making apparatus, this is all about road safety,” Sinanan said. “This will take us to a point where we become more responsible and modernised.”