PORT MARIA, St Mary — Unlike the chaos at many other locations across the country, there was a quiet calm at the St Mary Parish Court on Tuesday. Only a handful of motorists who had overdue traffic tickets patiently waited in and outside of the courtroom.
The rather pleasant registrar told the Jamaica Observer that the process has been smooth and almost without flaw. He said since people began coming in on January 25, more than 150 had signed up. The bulk of those came in between January 30 and 31, with more than 140 given court dates during that time.
But though they were less in number, those who were at the St Mary courthouse had similar complaints about the system. They were annoyed that they had to travel to the parish in which the traffic breach originally occurred. Their concern is that it has been an inconvenient disruption to their daily life and it would have been easier for them if they were allowed to pay a fine at the tax office most easily accessible by them.
One man who only identified himself as Roger was angry that he had to make the trek from Portland. He was there to pay a fine earned by his brother who lives in Mandeville and has had his licence revoked.
"Mi is a sick man and me have fi come all the way down here to pay the ticket. A madness this," he said as walked towards the courthouse gates. He griped all the way.
Carlton Campbell, 62 years old, was a lot calmer. He was unsure where to go to clear up an overdue ticket he was slapped with for driving a vehicle that did not have a valid fitness certificate. He said he had just started driving in 2022 when he got a $3,000 ticket. He went to the tax office with every intention to pay, he said, but they had no record of the fine so he forgot about it and eventually lost the physical copy he was given.
It was his boss, he said, who went on the online traffic ticket portal and saw that he had an outstanding ticket. When he showed up on Tuesday, the only thing on his mind was whether he would be able to have the matter addressed that day.
As of February 1 motorists with unpaid traffic fines could find themselves in police custody if they cannot prove that they have made an attempt to address the issue. Proof being accepted includes a stamped paper from the court that indicates a date has been set, or an email from the Island Traffic Authority.
– Ingrid Henry
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