What rights do traffic cops have?
February 11, 2004
Will someone in authority please inform the motoring public when a traffic officer is entitled to impound a motor vehicle and demand that the owner or driver take the vehicle to the police station.
For instance, can a police officer demand that a motorist take his vehicle to the police station if he is not in possession of his driver's licence, or other documents including insurance, fitness etc.?
I would also like to know if the "no parking" signs painted all along the seawall road starting from the Le Meridien Hotel all the way to the Kitty pumping station mean that at no time whatsoever can a motorist park his vehicle along the entire area or is the sign meant for Sundays only.
Under the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Regulations vehicles' licen-ces and certificates of fitness must be exhibited in the vehicles. The police can require drivers to produce their drivers' licences and insurance certificates at a police station within a reasonable time.
Section 43 of the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act reads as follows:
"(1) If the driver of a motor vehicle who is alleged to have committed an offence under the foregoing provisions of this Act or the regulations as to reckless or dangerous driving or careless driving refuses, on being so required by any person having reasonable ground for so requiring, to give his name or address, or gives a false name or address, he shall be guilty of an offence.
(2) Any member of the police force may arrest without warrant the driver of any motor vehicle who within his view commits any offence contrary to the provisions of this Act as to reckless or dangerous driving or careless driving, unless the driver either gives his name and address or produces his licence for examination.
(3) Any person driving a motor vehicle on a road shall stop the vehicle on being so required by any member of the police force in uniform, and if he fails so to do shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of fifty dollars."
What action should be taken by the traffic officer would depend on the circumstances. If a vehicle had no licence or no fitness arguably it should not be on the road. Similarly, if there is no insurance in place.
Section 43 (2) gives a power of arrest without warrant where a driver is guilty of careless or dangerous driving in the view of a policeman and will not give his name. We are sending a copy of this letter to the Acting Traffic Chief, Michael Harlequin, for any comments he may wish to make.