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Lawyer services may become necessary for buying used vehicles – Goffe

Published:Tuesday | November 21, 2023 | 12:08 AMAinsworth Morris/Staff Reporter
Attorney-at-law Gavin Goffe.
Attorney-at-law Gavin Goffe.

Attorney-at-law Gavin Goffe has noted that persons buying motor vehicles in Jamaica may soon need the services of a lawyer, as is the case with purchasing real estate.

Under the new Road Traffic Act, which was passed in 2018 and took effect earlier this year, drivers with outstanding traffic tickets should no longer be able to transfer titles of vehicles, renew driver’s licences, or pay fitness and registration fees.

Goffe believes that lawyers may have to come into play to ensure vehicles being purchased do not have unpaid tickets attached to them and, therefore, cannot be licensed by their new owners, especially if the tickets are with the courts.

He raised this concern while speaking at the Bethel Legal and Clinic’s ‘The New Road Traffic Act & You: Ready For The Road’ forum, which was held at the Bethel Baptist Church in St Andrew on Sunday.

The attorney also raised concerns about persons who are currently renewing their driver’s licences even with unpaid tickets.

It is understood that some of these drivers do not visit the tax offices in person, but send their documents with bearers for automatic renewal, with no denial of service.

“Almost everything in the law has come into force, so we have a situation where the law has come into force and some aspects of it are not yet ready,” Goffe said.

“One of the aspects which has not yet been brought into force is what they call ‘the denial of service’ ... . If you have unpaid traffic tickets, that you might not be able to renew your licence. But there’s also another part of it that if you have unpaid traffic tickets, those tickets are essentially tagged to the vehicle, and the vehicle itself might not be able to be re-registered or re-licensed when the time comes.

“And that creates a huge issue because when you’re looking to now purchase a motor vehicle, you’ll almost now have to go through a lawyer, where you do the due diligence to ensure it doesn’t have any unpaid tickets on it, or else, you probably wouldn’t even be able to get a vehicle that can then be licensed by you before the payments of those tickets,” Goffe explained.

“We haven’t yet seen that come into force, and we’re looking to see when it will. There is some more groundwork which needs to be done to take care of those concerns,” he said.

Goffe added that there needs to be more clarity about the issue of parents becoming certified before attempting to teach their children to drive.

“There are a lot of questions as to whether or not you could now still take the child and teach them to drive or if you now have to be certified in this driving school before you could then do what many of us have done and teach our children and grandchildren how to drive,” Goffe pointed out.

“So there is still some clarity that needs to be brought to those areas … . There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding what we’re hearing in public that we’re not going to enforce it yet, but it’s actually on the books right now and ready to be enforced,” he said.

On the other hand, Goffe noted that while the new Road Traffic Act is long overdue, he remains concerned about the next time it will be reviewed.

“This law is supposed to be reviewed every five years. It was passed in 2018, so we’re almost there now. [It’s] time for it to be reviewed already,” he said.