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Traffic chief seeks DPP's help in fake drivers' licence crackdown

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Observer senior reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 13, 2012    

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HEAD of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, has said he will seek the intervention of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn in one difficult case as the police continue their crackdown on drivers with fake road licences.

Lewis told the Jamaica Observer that since June of this year when the police revealed before the Senate Committee on National Policy Issues that thousands of motor vehicle titles, licence discs, certificates and more had been stolen by employees of the Tax Administration of Jamaica (TAJ) and sold illegally, even more of the licences have been confiscated by the police.

However, this has not been without encountering some motorists who think they can outsmart the police.

"Right now we have a situation where one minibus driver has been arrested four times already, and we know that he is in possession of a fake licence, and each time he is arrested he tells you to take him to Court, and when you take him to Court; he pays the $10,000 for [the] no driver's licence [charge] and then an automatic charge of $3,000 for no insurance. So, he just pays the $13,000 and drives again," Lewis told the Observer Friday.

"When that man is caught again driving without a licence we will definitely be having some discussions with the judge, and I am also going to be having some discussions with the Director of Public Prosecutions to see how we can deal with this man," he said.

According to the traffic chief, some adjustment will have to be made to the current law to pose a sufficient deterrent.

"The penalty will have to be stiffer, in the sense that it would become a deterrent to the offenders. To them it is better to pay the $13,000 than to drive with the licence, because they can make more than the $13,000... Something like that you have to have laws to deal with. We will be having discussions with the DPP to see how that particular problem can be solved once and for all," SSP Lewis said, adding that the police will be recommending that similar cases be treated in like manner, based on the DPP's decision.

In the meantime, Lewis, who in June had bemoaned the reluctance of top officials at the Tax Department to participate in the ongoing investigations, said the situation has now reversed.

"The investigations are being conducted on a friendly basis now and we are getting cooperation," he said.

Three months ago, Lewis told the Senate that for the five months prior, 6,000 motor vehicle certificates, 2,000 motor vehicle titles, 300 licence discs and 5,000 test link sheets had been stolen from vaults at TAJ's King Street headquarters. He said police intelligence at the time suggested that the identities of several taxpayers were being sold to criminals by persons working in the tax office.

Lewis said raids carried out at the King Street tax offices on June 7 this year resulted in the nabbing of the alleged chief mastermind. At the time, he said an additional 10,000 fictitious driver's licences had made their way into the hands of unscrupulous Jamaican drivers.

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