By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The National Assembly passed a Bill on Thursday, May 15, amending the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, introducing the Demerit Point System which seeks to address the high statistics of carnage on roadways across the country.
The demerit point system is one in which the police force will issue cumulative demerits, or points to drivers on conviction for road traffic offenses.
As explained by Attorney General Anil Nandlall, in whose name the Bill was piloted, the introduction of this system will also see errant drivers facing disqualification from driving for either six month or a 12 month periods.
The Minister pointed out that other systems in place to deal with drivers on the roadways will remain. The Attorney General said the high incidents of vehicular accidents have not gone unnoticed by the administration while also pointing to the high figures of fatalities including children and senior citizens.
Nandlall said the need for such a measure is long overdue and expressed confidence in its effectiveness to curb road carnage since it has been tried and tested in other jurisdiction.
While this measure was support by the Opposition, former Commissioner of Police Winston Felix suggested that during the periods of disqualification, driver undergo training paid for either by themselves or the State.
Felix reasoned that the aim behind the legislation should be to reduce carnage and produce well trained drivers. The amendment Bill will also addresses the difficulties encountered in establishing criminal liability against persons when the vehicle is registered in one name and used by another in the commission of criminal offense or engaged in criminal enterprise.
In this regard, the Attorney General pointed to the multiplicity of crimes committed with the use of motor vehicles and later abandoned, leading to stalled investigations when it is found that the vehicles are registered in name of a particular person and used by another.
Nandlall explained that the amendment was to extend the definition for persons who can be deemed owners. This amendment was met with some objection from the opposition benches. Leader of the Alliance For Change, Khemraj Ramjattan argued that notwithstanding the expansion, persons are bound to find loop holes to trick the system and as such it will require constant revision.
Meanwhile, Basil Williams argued that it is irrelevant to criminal proceedings. In the end, the Bill was passed unanimously.