An Arouca man whose driver’s permit was suspended for six months after he allegedly racked up ten points has mounted a legal challenge to the new traffic laws' demerit point system.
However, the judge presiding over Zachary De Silva’s lawsuit has asked for the Attorney General to be served with the proceedings, since he said there were issues with the law which require clarification.
At a virtual hearing on Wednesday, Justice Frank Seepersad said there appeared to be a lack of legislative clarity in the amendment to the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act on the process to be engaged when challenging a disqualification or suspension.
He said he had some difficulty in accepting it was Parliament’s intention for the Supreme Court to review all the decisions of the transport commissioner to disqualify or suspend a driver.
Apart from that concern, Seepersad said the legislation gives the impression that the decision of a summary court was final, which was also troubling.
“I cannot think of any circumstance where a magistrate makes finding and a decision is binding, given that magistrates are creatures of statute and have no inherent jurisdiction,” he said.
Seepersad has directed that the matter is to be served on the Attorney General, since the issue raised could possibly have an impact on thousands of citizens since the demerit point system took effect in late May 2020.
“There is a need to have clarity on the way forward on how the legislative intent is to unfold on the issue of forum and process,” he said, as he adjourned the matter to January 20.
De Silva received a fixed-date penalty notice sometime in May 2020 for driving with a cell phone. He received two more tickets in July and September for breaching a traffic sign and because his front-seat passenger was not wearing a seatbelt.
He paid the penalties and thought as a result, he would not get demerit points. He was told that he had accumulated ten demerit points, and of the intention to suspend his permit, and was invited to respond. He did so within the statutory period under the legislation.
However, De Silva's attorney Devvon Williams said his client was then told his permit was suspended, when the legislation gave the transport commissioner a discretion to do so, but did not mandate that he does. De Silva's lawsuit said apart from the decision being harsh, oppressive and disproportionate, it also failed to provide reasons.