Friday, 02 December 2022 12:48

No mercy for delinquent traffic ticket holders - Chuck mulls night court to facilitate payments

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Adamant that law and order must be maintained, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has scoffed at calls for a "payment plan" by delinquent motorists who have failed to pay their outstanding traffic tickets.

Chuck warned those motorists to pay off their outstanding tickets, declaring on Thursday that they risked losing the ability to renew their driver's licences or having their motor vehicles licensed when the new system is implemented by the Government. 

The minister said, too, that night court and Saturday court would be in place to make the process of payment easier.

"This Government has to be firm, and the rule of law must be upheld. If we don't insist that the rule of law must be upheld, it's chaos and indiscipline everywhere," Chuck contended. 

The latest warning by the minister came during Thursday's commissioning ceremony for new justices of the peace (JPs) for the parish of St Ann, held at Club Hotel RIU Mammee Bay. 

It followed Wednesday's rush by motorists to clear their outstanding traffic tickets at a traffic court in the Corporate Area, where Chief Justice Bryan Sykes told the media that night court might have to be considered to facilitate those making ticket payments.

Many people were trying to beat the expected December 1 implementation, by the Government, of a system in which those with outstanding tickets would be issued warrants for court.

That implementation appears to have been delayed for now. 

Still, the One Voice Association of Transport Investors and Operators, which represents some operators in the transport sector called on its members to withdraw their services, Thursday, noting that they had heard nothing from Transport Minister Audley Shaw on their pleas for a traffic ticket amnesty. 

However, the strike was not widely supported, as many transport operators opted to carry on with their duties.

Amid everything, Chuck remained resolute on Thursday that Prime Minister Andrew Holness, or any Cabinet minister, had "no authority to dictate to the court what is to be done. 

"We would be interfering with the rule of law and the court system," Chuck said.

Continuing, he said: "You fail to pay your ticket in 21 days, it is a matter for the court. 

"You want a payment plan? Go and talk to the judge. Don't talk to Minister (Audley) Shaw, or Minister Chuck, or Minister (Horace) Chang. 

"You want a payment plan? Get your lawyer and go and plead with the traffic court judge that, 'I know I owe so much money, and I think I can pay it off in such and such a time, and I can pay'," Chuck advised. 

Taking into account Wednesday's crowd at a traffic court in the Corporate Area, the minister said his ministry and other stakeholders have decided to assist Chief Justice Brian Sykes by having night courts. 

Additionally, "You can have court on Saturday, and the payments must be paid," Chuck emphasised. 

"So, I send a signal via the media: all persons who have outstanding tickets, go and pay them quickly, because now we have reconciled tickets that have not been paid," he said. 

Once that period is over, Chuck said warrants would be issued and "serious consequences" would follow. 

"Yes, warrants will be issued; yes, you won't be able to renew your driver's licence because it will be put against your driver's licence. 

"Yes, the vehicles can't be transferred or can't be dealt with or licensed until the tickets are paid," he warned further. 

For those delaying, because they do not believe they deserved a traffic ticket, Chuck urged them to contest the matter in court. 

"If you got the ticket properly, pay tickets online, and don't burden the courts and wait 21 days to pay it. 

"Eventually, what is going to happen, is you may have to wait two or three months to pay for your tickets.

"If you pay up quickly, it demonstrates your willingness to at least admit your wrongdoing, and there may be some empathy... Not that I have empathy for some of these people, especially the ones with over 20 tickets," the minister said with a chuckle. 

But for those who fail to pay, he insisted that "whenever that cut-off date is, you won't be on the road. 

"In fact, with due respect, those with over 100 tickets, I wonder why you're still on the road, but if you're still on the road, make sure you quickly go and pay up before whatever date will be the cut-off date. Do it now!" he implored.

Meanwhile, Chuck said the matter was of "national concern", and the Government has been working on the new traffic ticket implementation system to ensure its efficiency and that people are properly served with a warrant.

"We have to get order and discipline on the road because if we don't get law and order on the road, lives will be lost," he said. 

With the Christmas season fast approaching, the minister called upon motorists to let good sense prevail on the nation's roadways.

"It is important I send a signal across Jamaica to urge motorists, please, at this time of the year, obey the rules of the roads, and those who have disobeyed and got tickets, pay up!" Chuck charged.