Warning for delinquent motorists: Electronic warrants coming Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Motorists with outstanding traffic tickets are being warned that they could soon be hauled before the court without notice.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck gave the warning on Tuesday as he piloted and led the debate on the Electronic Transaction (Amendment) Act 2023, which was eventually passed in the House of Representatives.

Chuck said that, in short order, the police, using a smartphone, will be able to determine if a motorist who has been pulled over has a warrant out for his /her arrest.

The minister noted that even with the new Road Traffic Act, with its far more punitive penalties taking effect on February 1, a significant number of traffic tickets remains unpaid. He said several thousand warrants are due to be issued.

Chuck told the House that between February 1 and March 27, a total of 66,428 tickets were issued for violations of the Road Traffic Act and Regulations.

Of this number, payment was made for 27,617 at the various tax collectorates across the island, 246 were settled in the courts, and 5,511 will likely require the issuance of warrants in the short term.

“When taken in the context of the fact that the remaining 33,054 matters generated over the last 55 days have still not been brought before the courts, along with the approximately 981,921 unpaid tickets issued up to January 31, 2023, the monumental task facing the court if reliance is placed on warrants issued by handwriting, cannot be discounted,” said Chuck.

“It is on that basis that the amendments to the legislation mentioned previously are being proposed, to assist in increasing the throughput and by extension productivity levels in the island’s courts using the available technologies,” the minister added.

The justice minister noted that more than 70 per cent of the total annual caseload in the court system is comprised of traffic matters. And, he revealed that during the current quarter, 60,096 new cases were filed in the traffic division of the parish courts across the island, of which only 12,191 or just over 20 per cent were disposed of in the quarter.

“With the vast majority of these cases requiring the issuance of a warrant, the sheer volume of the documents required creates an unwieldy and untenable situation in the island’s courts as the demand for the timely execution of the process outstrips the available human resource capacity,” Chuck said.

He said further that the existing process used in the courts to generate warrants is not sufficiently expedient to meet its current needs and requires an appropriate and immediate fix, namely the ability for judges to utilise an electronic signature in the issuance of warrants.

Chuck explained that the amendments to the Electronic Transactions Act represented one of the measures the Government was using to maximise operational efficiencies and improve productivity levels in the island’s courts through the introduction of a paperless, digitalised and digitised system.

He pointed out that this was not a novel proposition as other jurisdictions such as the United States, Rwanda, and Scotland, facilitate the use of electronic signatures that are affixed through a secure process approved by the court and governed by legislation.