Understanding the Law
December 15, 2006

Traffic Tickets-3

Police officers in the Traffic Department got into action last week Tuesday December 5, 2006 and for the past week the buzz phrase in town was “the clamp”. One newspaper last weekend captioned the yellow instrument on its front page with a police officer actually attaching it to the wheel of a motor vehicle that was illegally parked. It was also reported that some 12 vehicles were clamped on the first day.

In a previous article we talked about the clamp that was introduced under the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic (Amendment) Act, No.19 of 2005. If you park illegally, that is, in areas where there are “no parking” signs or on side walks or alongside another parked vehicle (double parking), you would attract the attention of the traffic police who are on the look out for any illegal act.{{more}}

The law must be obeyed but the problem today is that there are too many cars competing for the few parking spaces in the business area of capital Kingstown. It would be helpful if attention could be given to increasing the parking areas for vehicles. The act makes provision for paid parking areas but this might not increase the number of parking space. It might very well be that some of the parking areas that used to be free would be designated paid parking areas.

Parking illegally

Avoid parking in the wrong places because this would cost you money that you can ill-afford and you would only be delayed further. When your vehicle is clamped and ticketed you would have to go to the Magistrate’s Court or revenue office to pay the fine. The removal of the clamp is under the direction of the Licensing Authority. If you try to remove the clamp yourself or damage or destroy it you would be breaking the law and would be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $4,000. Any person who removes or interferes with the ticket on a vehicle commits an offence and will be liable to a fine of $200.

Other offences

There are many other offences that would attract a ticket. Last week we spoke about the identification marks that are required by law. If you are ticketed for failure to carry the requisite marks you would be required to pay a fine of $80. There is a wide range of offences covering parking and driving offences that carry this fine. Some of these you might not know about until you are given a ticket. For example, if you are driving a vehicle that is not a public service vehicle, you cannot pull over within 30 feet of a bus stop. If you want to stop to answer your cell phone you must be careful that you do not get too close to a bus stop. It is also an offence to leave a vehicle that has broken down to obstruct or endanger others using the road. If you fail to remove the vehicle when asked to do so by a police officer you would have committed an offence.

Solving the parking problem

There is no doubt that capital Kingstown is too congested. There are many more cars than parking spaces. Perhaps what we need is the decentralization of commercial activities. Perhaps an innovative person in the private sector could build a mall outside Kingstown that could supply shoppers’ desire for one-stop shopping. Some of the popular stores could even locate branch outlets.

It may help if those who are building in capital Kingstown would provide their own parking for customers and workers.

• Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.

E-mail address is exploringthelaw@yahoo.com