Cops instructed to review how they issue tickets for cell phone use

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Police across the island have been told to review how they issue tickets to motorists seen with cellular phones while driving but not actively engaged with the devices.

In a release on Friday, the JCF high command said it has noted the recent concerns raised by the public regarding the issuance of traffic tickets for the use of electronic devices while driving.

“We understand the importance of ensuring road safety and minimising distractions, which is why the Road Traffic Act (2018) was enacted. However, we also recognise the need for clarity and fairness in the enforcement of this law,” said the high command.

“Since February 1, 2023, the JCF, through the commission of the Road Traffic Act (2018), has been empowered to issue traffic tickets to individuals using cellular phones and other electronic devices while driving. This initiative aims to enhance road safety and reduce crashes caused by driver distraction.

“However, we have received several complaints about instances where motorists have been ticketed under circumstances that do not constitute a violation of the law.

These include: having a cellphone in a lap, pocket, passenger seat, or middle compartment; using a phone after pulling off the road and stopping the vehicle; having a phone mounted on the dashboard for navigation purposes,” added the high command.

It said in response to the concerns, it has issued detailed guidance to members of the JCF to ensure that traffic tickets are issued only in situations that align with the provisions of the Road Traffic Act (2018).

The high command noted that:

• Drivers should only be prosecuted if the device is seen in their hands or if they are actively engaging with the device (eg, dialling, texting, watching videos).

• Drivers can be prosecuted if using a device while in a live traffic lane, even if stopped at a light.

• Mounted devices displaying live images can also lead to prosecution.

“We want to assure the public that we are committed to fair and just enforcement of the law.

The JCF High Command has taken immediate steps to rectify any misapplications through internal communications and guidance to our personnel.

JCF members who fail to adhere to these guidelines will be subject to disciplinary actions,” the high command added.