House passes Bill introducing ‘Demerit Point System’; Errant drivers could be disqualified from driving

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By Kurt Campbell

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall.
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall.

[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.

1 COMMENT

  1. And blah blah blah… with only 3breathalyzers and 90% of the police pocketing bribes how will the enforcement of this bill be effected? If the stakes are higher the bribe will just be higher. The people who lose points will be those who didn’t have enough bribe. Parliament is terribly disconnected from reality… how about a tandem ‘Demerit Point System’ that runs for the police. Where those found to be corrupt and those fattening themselves and their pockets on the proceeds of vice & graft lose points, get chucked out of the force and even chucked into jail. I know some minibus drivers that would lose all their points in ONE trip. How many people does one have to mow down before a full disqualification? How many beers? How are the police checking for those beers? By smell? C’mon… a point system is nothing new in the world but careful attention must be paid to the delivery mechanism and those meant to enforce it must be put under intense scrutiny. Where is the police/government points system for torture, rape, abuse, pedophilia and their timeless offering of subhuman injustice. Given the reality of this place when I look at the picture attached to this article I’m not at all imagining a policeman of the future calculating that driver’s point reduction based on his/her ‘errant driving’… I imagine using those points as a multiplier for the bribe he was about to collect. 1 point $2,000, 2points $4,000, 3 points $6,000 and so on. On paper this idea looks great and in the places it’s used yeah, it can do wonders to have people scared to lose their licenses. In Guyana people are going to be scared of losing their wallets. My prediction is that sadly, the carnage on the roads will continue. As an aside, any study into how many policemen serving and retired actually own or drive taxis and mini buses would surprise the public. No society can truly be held accountable by their law enforcement apparatus once that very apparatus operates as if unaccountable to anyone but itself. The laws of entropy reign in Guyana and chaos will surely follow dear friends. For starters this article should be reworded to start “The National Embarrassment passed a Bill on Thursday May 15th amending…” I’ll end as I started… and blah blah blah…. schups.

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