Thursday, 16 April 2020
Citizen Rights during Police Roadblocks
What are my rights with regards to being stopped and questioned by police officers at roadblocks during the COVID-19 lockdown in Trinidad & Tobago?
Comply with all reasonable instructions because, as previously mentioned, the police have been empowered to enforce all of the special provisions associated with the current state of restricted movement and assembly during the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, please take note of the law on police vehicle searches without a warrant.
Additionally, if at any time you are stopped whilst operating a motor vehicle in Trinidad & Tobago, at the very minimum, you must be able to provide both a valid driving permit/license, as well as an up-to-date insurance policy.
According to the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act 1934, as amended:
56. (1) A person who drives or is in charge of a motor vehicle on any road or a learner who is in a motor vehicle on any road receiving instruction shall have on his person or in the motor vehicle for production as required by subsection (2) his driving permit or provisional permit as the case may be.
(2) A Transport Officer in uniform or a police officer in uniform may require any person referred to in subsection (1) to produce his driving permit or provisional permit for examination, in order to ascertain the name and address of the holder of the permit, the date of issue and the Transport Officer by whom it was issued.
(3) A person who fails to comply with the requirements of this section is liable on conviction to a fine of five hundred dollars.
Notwithstanding the above, if your driving permit/license has recently expired, you may still be able to drive if you fall within the category mentioned in this recent Trinidad & Tobago Legal Rights blog post.
The law on having valid vehicle insurance is as follows, according to the Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third-Party Risks)Act 1933, as amended:
3. (1) Subject to this Act, it shall not be lawful for any person to use, or to cause or permit any other person to use, a motor vehicle or licensed trailer on a public road unless there is in force in relation to the user of the motor vehicle or licensed trailer by that person or that other person, as the case may be, such a policy of insurance or such a security in respect of third-party risks as complies with the requirements of this Act.
(2) If a person acts in contravention of this section, he is liable to a fine of seven thousand, five hundred dollars ($7,500) and to imprisonment for two years, and a person convicted of an offence under this section shall (unless the Court for special reasons thinks fit to order otherwise and without prejudice to the power of the Court to order a longer period of disqualification) be disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving permit under the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act for a period of three years from the date of the conviction.