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Clean up system - Witter

Published:Sunday | March 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

THE PUBLIC DEFENDER is expressing concern about the growing trend where motorists are arrested for their perceived failure to pay traffic fines.

"The phenomenon of the Traffic Court judge or resident magistrate issuing warrants of arrests for disobedience of summons automatically triggered by the supposed non-payment of statutory fines payable for specific traffic offence is a serious source of concern," Public Defender Earl Witter said in his 2008 annual report which was tabled in Gordon House on Tuesday.

One motorist highlighted in the annual report received $40,000 compensation after he was arrested for failing to pay a summons.

He was jailed for three days despite having paid the fine before the Traffic Court issued the warrant for his arrest.

The Public Defender's Office, which investigated that case, has recommended a system of communication between the collectorates and the court where the court would get information from the tax department as to whether fines are paid before arrest warrants are issued.

"It should be implemented without delay," Witter recommended.

Several motorists have complained about warrants being issued for their arrest even after they have paid traffic tickets. Witter said those "grave instances of injustice are compounded by the court's impatient disregard of respectful protests by motorists".