From the Courts
August 13, 2019
Unlicensed teen fined after early morning drive

Last Friday, the court struggled to decide how to sentence an unlicensed 18-year-old driver who knocked a 45-year-old man’s arm and sent him to the hospital.

Allier Johnson, of Rillan Hill, is still in secondary school, but he already has a criminal record after admitting that he, on August 8, drove the vehicle PB31 without a permit, without insurance and without due care and attention.

It is said that Johnson was driving the vehicle along the Buccament Bay public road at 5 am, when he struck Nolly Patrick of Buccament on his right arm. The matter was reported to the police, who came on the scene, and they realized that he did not have a permit to drive. Patrick went to the hospital and was discharged after treatment, but was instructed to do an X-ray.

The young defendant did not come unrepresented before Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court. He was represented by attorney Ronald Marks who noted that his client admitted his guilt at the first available opportunity, and had no previous convictions. All reports indicate that his client is an industrious and helpful young man, the lawyer said.

Johnson had just passed form four, according to Marks, and will be entering form five this year. He helps his aunt who owns a bakery, Marks continued, and often times he would run the bakery by himself. The lawyer posited that on the morning in question the driver of the bread van was not able to come in, and Johnson decided to take a chance in the wee hours of the morning to make some deliveries.

However, the magistrate was not quite satisfied given what could have happened, and the possibilities that existed. “This is an almost daily occurrence now,” Burnett commented.

Prosecutor Corlene Samuel weighed in, saying although Johnson has no previous convictions and is young, there are a lot of drivers on the roads driving without licenses. She noted that people seem to think that they can just jump in and drive. The circumstances could have been worse, she noted.

However, Marks cautioned that sentencing, “It’s always a precarious balancing act.” He asked that the court consider that it was five in the morning, that the victim did not see who had hit him, but Johnson “stopped, he came out, he saw the person, he didn’t run away, he waited, despite the fact that he knew he was going to get in trouble,” he made sure that the person he struck was taken care of, the lawyer stated.

“It’s not very often I’m struggling to come up with a sentence in a traffic matter but this one,” was presenting a little challenge for him, the magistrate said.
However, he ordered that Johnson be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s permit for one year, and that he pay $500 on each of his three charges.
Therefore, the defendant must pay $1500 by October 31, or spend two months in prison.
Persons who came to the court with the 18-year-old seemed to be able to make the payment within a week, but the magistrate kept the date he had set.