Amber Signal Light: Horrors At Harney’s Junction


Rawlston Pompey

Acclaimed to have been the world’s greatest social commentator, ‘Slinger Francisco ‘Mighty Sparrow’ has long foreseen that which has, and continues to bring upon the lives of many people manifold consequences and unending miseries. Today, he would be less than amused to know that though the world has become more of an enlightened place, and ‘British fabled writer J.O. Cutteridge’ has long transitioned into oblivion, ‘Illiteracy’ continues to be among man’s gravest enemy. Added to this, is ‘Ignorance,’ that he also said, ‘Impedes progress.’ Respecting ‘Illiteracy,’ this may have been the most fundamental reason he sang; ‘Stamp it out completely.’


While the social commentary of the ‘Mighty Sparrow’ speaks generally to ‘Our Rising Population,’ this commentary speaks to the ‘Motoring Public.’ Thus, it looks at two pieces of legislation that are intended to address the behavior and manner of driving by motorists. These are; (i) ‘…The Vehicles and Road Traffic Act’ [Chapter 460; and (ii) …The Vehicles Road Traffic (Enforcement and Administration) Act [Chapter 461]. It specifically looks at; (a) ‘…Dangerous Driving and elements of the offence’ [Section 55]; (b) …Failing to Conform with Traffic (Signs) Regulations’ [Section 29: Chapter 461]; and (c) ‘…The behavior of Traffic officers; and (d) …Non-adjudicating practice of some Magistrates.’ From motorists ‘Expressions of Dissent,’ many appeared to have come to the realization that there has been a concerted effort that enforcement of the ‘Vehicular Traffic Regulations,’ appeared not to have been consistent with the ‘Vehicles and Road Traffic (Enforcement and Administration) Act.’


Such dissent has been said to have resulted from reasonably suspected influenced or induced ‘Guilty Pleas’ for alleged ‘Dangerous Driving.’ This will have been observed from a seeming ‘Magisterial Mindset,’ whereby acceptance of non-evidentiary facts, that seemed to have superseded trial and adjudication. Such unwholesome practice, clearly speaks to ‘Sheer Travesty’ within the ‘Traffic Court.’ Even more of grievous concern to the ‘Self-convicted motorist,’ has been the ‘Every-day On-the-Road Conclusion’ by ‘Traffic Personnel.’ Not infrequently, the manner of driving alleged has almost, always been ‘Dangerous to the Public.’ Yet there have been; (a) ‘…No formal investigations: (b) …No attendance of independent witnesses of members of the public to testify on Oath, that arresting officers have alleged have been so endangered; and (c) …Neither trials, nor adjudication done by Magistrates.’


Research has revealed that defendants were frequently called upon to offer explanations to adjudicators, after they had pleaded ‘Not Guilty.’ In most ‘OECS’ jurisdictions the approved ‘Magisterial Procedure’ has been the prosecutors to advise the adjudicator that they are ready to proceed with the prosecution. From dissenting voices of aggrieved motorists and some attorneys, even before the ‘Plea’ was put to the defendants, they have been ‘Presumed Guilty. This was said to have been obtained through the subjective opinions of those enforcing the ‘Vehicular Traffic Regulations,’ including contents of the offence on the ‘Complaints Without Oath’ that shall be read to the defendants.


Framers of the ‘Constitution Order’ anticipated that even when ‘Prima Facie Evidence’ may not so suggest, and the prosecution may not be evidentially positioned to establish a ‘Prima Facie Case,’ the innocent, as well as the constitutionally presumed innocent, may suffer ‘Grave Injustice.’ The provision clearly states that; ‘…Every person who is charged with a criminal offence, shall be presumed innocent, until; (a) ‘…He/she is tried; or (b) …Has pleaded guilty’ [CO: 1981: Section 15 (2)]. Research has revealed that either out of exuberance or ignorance, some non-adjudicating, but ‘Facts-Taking Magistrates’ were reported to have been frequently observed more in ‘Breach’ of this provision, than in recognizing, respecting and showing evidence of its ‘Practice.’


This provision anticipates that the ‘Principle of Natural Justice’ shall be seen to be at work at all material times. Thus, when criminal or traffic offenders are brought before the ‘Court,’ they shall always be given an opportunity to be heard, not only in their defence, but also upon conviction. These procedures often follow either after an adjudicator was satisfied that a ‘Prima Facie Case’ has been made out by the prosecution, or if he was fully satisfied that the evidence adduced was not only sufficient, but also ‘SAFE’ to convict. That which often seemed to have provoked consternation, has been a particular practice at some Courts.


While some motorists may have experienced confusion over the ‘Amber Signal Light,’ some adjudicators continue of make ‘Non-Adjudicating Mockery.’ This might be seen when in the proceedings for an offence of ‘Dangerous Driving,’ only; (i) ‘…A single Police officer writes the facts as he saw them; (ii) …A Police Prosecutor presents them as they are written; and (iii) …A non-adjudicating Magistrate accepting and believing them as facts.’ The situation was said to have been compounded when ‘Police Prosecutors’ have only been called upon to give ‘Brief Facts of the Case,’ as opposed to calling upon the ‘Prosecutors’ to present their cases for adjudication. While such practice might be considered good for expediting some matters, many motorists have viewed it as bad for the ‘Administration of Justice.’


There may be no denial that through mainstream media, ‘Traffic Regulators’ have been daily offering ‘Traffic Tips’ to all road users, and specifically to motorists. Motorists shall now know that whether or not; (i) ‘…Influenced by arresting officers;’ or (ii) …Mis-advised by lawyers in waiving their right to a ‘Full Trial’ or ignoring the constitutional right to the ‘Presumption of Innocence’ to plead guilty to the charge of ‘Dangerous Driving,’ they are in fact begging ‘Magistrates’ to incarcerate them. They shall always remind themselves that when the ‘Traffic Light’ moves from ‘Green’ and signals ‘Amber,’ it means one thing; and one thing only- ‘Prepare to STOP.’ This is in fact is an ‘ALERT’ that in few seconds, the ‘Red Signal Light’ will be self-automated. Most importantly, they shall remember that ‘RED’ means ‘Danger,’ and at the junction of the ‘Sidney Walling Highway and American Road,’ if a ‘Traffic cop Claps,’ that too, is ‘Mucho Peligro’ [ANR Video: April 8, 2022].  


Unfortunately, having regard to the contents and the ‘Facts of the Case,’ a pattern of ‘Non-Adjudicating Behavior’ seemed to have been developed in some adjudicators. They were said to have an appreciable delight in: (a) ‘…One attendance: (b) …One Guilty Plea:’ and (c) …One final disposal practice.’ Though not necessarily ‘Magisterial Watchdogs,’ seemingly finding the situation rather untenable, some legal luminaries have taken umbrage with such practice. As every defendant seemed to have been considered guilty as complained by the ‘Traffic Commissioner.’ They have shared the collective view that if public confidence is to be maintained, then the time has come for such practice to be given corrective judicial scrutiny.


Although the ‘Mighty Sparrow,’ may have been speaking to ‘Children’ in the impoverished ‘English-speaking Caribbean,’ he may also have been speaking to every adult man and woman within the region. Though it may not have been for reasons of ‘Education,’ applied to driving a motor vehicle, none may deny that ‘Illiteracy and Stupidity’ continue to impact the way motorists drive on the roadway and the seeming non-conformity to certain ‘Vehicular Traffic Regulations.’ Police statistical data may show that some drivers, due to lack of knowledge and non-conformity with these ‘Regulations’ have caused unnecessary inconvenience to many road users.


Consequent upon the manner of driving and moving violations, many have been deemed liable for extensive damages to the motor vehicles of third parties. In addition, many have also sustained serious or life-threatening injuries, that invariably ended in road fatalities. Considered as ‘Misadventure,’ several vehicular accidents have reportedly resulted in the loss their own lives. The most recent ‘Fatal Crash’ of a motorcyclist on the ‘Bethesda Public Road,’ makes the point [ANR: March 9, 2022]. There may be no doubt that a good number of motorists appear to have found themselves in a sorry ‘State of Confusion.’


Such confusion has seen many drivers being constantly hauled before the ‘Magistrate’s Court’ to answer charges of ‘Dangerous Driving.’ Not infrequently, these were reportedly occasioned by either ‘Reckless; …Dangerous; or …Careless driving; or for ‘Exceeding the Speed Limit’ applicable to the vehicle. Instructively, the charge that has often been laid against the motorists has not necessarily been for the ‘Minor Ticketable offence’ of ‘Failing to Comply with the Traffic Signal Lights’ as contained in the ‘Vehicles and Road Traffic (Enforcement and Administration) Act’ [Chapter 461: Section 29], but for the most serious offence of ‘Dangerous Driving,’ under a different ‘Act’ [Vehicles and Road Traffic Act: Chapter 460: Section 55]. Thus, frequently, motorists are inescapable caught in a ‘Three-Way-Trap.’ The third being the ‘Traffic Court.’


Many motorists were said to have caused ‘Prosecutorial Horror’ to be visited upon them, due to grave misunderstanding of the ‘Amber Traffic Light.’ Incidentally, even as the most prevalent moving traffic violations has been ‘Failing to Conform to Traffic Signals,’ motorists have been regularly slapped with a ‘Non-Ticketable Offence.’ Many drivers appear to have taken the view, albeit erroneous, that when the ‘Green Traffic Light’ turns to ‘Amber,’ this means throwing caution to the wind, simply accelerate and continue driving. That which was said to have been frequently obtained, was that the legally unrepresented defendant having no protection from the Court, were said to have been doomed to that which constantly and ‘Perilously Looms.’


It has been the knowledge that it matters not the type of vehicular accident or speed in of driving, to the ‘Copy-cat’ law enforcers and among some adjudicators, all driving is considered Dangerous. Their concept of driving invariably bears no logic or fact, and often seen as far removed from that which is contained in the law. Guided by ‘Legislative Wisdom,’ Parliamentarians anticipated that some persons may not only expose road users to danger that may result in serious injuries and extensive damages, but also cause the death of innocent persons.


Thus, keenly desirous in ensuring ‘Public Safety’ on the roadway, Legislators have inserted into the ‘Vehicles and Road Traffic Act’ several serious driving offences. Among these are; (i) ‘…Reckless: (ii) …Dangerous: and (iii) …Careless Driving; and (iv) …Exceeding the Speeding Limit.’ They were very mindful that the ‘Manner of Driving’ may also bring upon the lawful road user, pain, sorrow and grief. Thus, the have inserted the more serious offence of ‘…Causing Death by Dangerous Driving.’ This is a separate and distinct offence and relates only to the tragic loss of life. Frequently, this was attributed to the manner and speed and other factors relating to the road on which the motorist drove, as to be seen as contributory to the vehicular accident’ [VRTA: Chapter 460: Section 57].


In a prosecution for the offence of ‘Dangerous Driving,’ Parliament expected those that; (i) ‘…Enforce the law: (ii) Conduct criminal prosecutions; and (iii) …Those that sit on Magisterial Bench and at High Court Bar,’ to be fully au fait or familiar with the ‘Elements’ that constitute this particular offence. Legislators were very clear in their collective thinking and wisdom, of the evidence that shall be presented to ‘Magistrates and Judges.’ Consequently, for evidential guidance, they have provided this interpretation; ‘…Any person who drives a motor vehicle on a road; (a) ‘Recklessly, or (b) …At a speed; or (c) …In a manner that is dangerous to the public’ commits an offence [Section 55].


Parliament not only believed that some law enforcers may subject motorist to abuse, but also some adjudicators may not even stop to consider if the evidence adduced, substantiates the offence. Hence, they inserted these as the ‘Evidentiary Elements.’ It is these that the ‘Prosecution’ shall adduce at trial. Such shall not only satisfy adjudicators, but also prove their cases ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt.’ Evidentially, the ‘Act’ dictates that, adjudicators shall admit; ‘…All the circumstances of the Case.’ These shall include; (a) ‘…The nature: (b) …Condition and use of the road: (c) …Amount of traffic which is actually on the roadway at the time; and (d) …Amount of traffic which might reasonably be expected to be on the road at the time of the offence’ [VRTA: Chapter 460: Section 55].


The Legislators considered this particular offence to be ‘Hybrid.’ In other words, they have provided an option to the ‘Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’ whereby a person so charged may be tried; (a) ‘…Summarily by Magistrates; or (b) …Indictably by Judge and Jury.’ Given the speed that this particular offence has reached before, now ‘Acting Chief Magistrate, His Worship Dexter Wason,’ it has been made sufficiently clear that a single officer is; (i) ‘…A law enforcer: (ii) …Arresting officer: and (iii) …The DPP.’ Such officer often appears to have taken the unilateral decision, that the ‘Dangerous Driving Charge’ shall be ‘Summarily tried by a Magistrate.’


Reasonable inferences might be drawn from that which obtains daily. Thus, the prosecution opting for this mode of trial, places an offending motorist, if found guilty or pleaded guilty, to be fined ‘EC$2, 500’ and to imprisonment for ‘6 months’ for the first offence. Ensuring that ‘Road Safety Violations’ were to be treated with some degree of severity and harshness, for a second, and every subsequent offence, the convicted, self or tried and found guilty, shall be liable to a fine of ‘EC$5, 000’ with an additional sentence of ‘imprisonment for a term of 12 months’ [Section 55 (1) (a & b)].


With an obvious increase in the number of motor vehicles, drivers and density of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on the public roads, ‘Parliament’ saw the need to keep abreast with these developments. Legislators appeared to have viewed the situation from two perspectives; (i) ‘…Enhance and encourage safe driving; and (ii) …Punish non-conforming motorists.’ Consequent upon these, they gave legislative consideration to an Act, shortly titled; ‘The Vehicles and Road Traffic (Enforcement and Administration) Act’ [1984: VRTA: Chapter 461].


The two operational aspects of the ‘Act’ being; (i) ‘…Enforcement; and (ii) …Administration.’ The Legislators, focusing upon ‘Punishment,’ inserted these as its ‘Objects.’ It states; (i) ‘…An Act to provide for the punishment of motorists; and (ii) …Without the necessity for Court appearance.’ In respect of ‘Enforcement,’ this shall be done by issuance of ‘Fixed Penalty Tickets.’ As it pertains to ‘Administration,’ ticketed motorists have the option to pay the ‘Fixed Penalty,’ without facing trial by a Magistrate,’ thus avoiding the imposition of the statutory fine, if convicted.


The Legislators had seen the prevalence of certain ‘Parking and Moving Traffic Violations,’ and have listed ‘31 Regulations.’ Administratively, the ‘Act’ provides for ticketed motorists to pay to the ‘Magistrate’s Courts’ the ‘Fixed Penalties’ for the ‘Regulations’ alleged to have been violated with an option to do so ‘within 10 days of issuance’ [Sections 3 and 4].  Moreover, it provides for legal challenges to the offence ticketed ‘in another 21 days.’ The ‘Act’ firstly provides for enforcement of the ‘Regulations’ by the ‘Police’ by issuance of ‘Fixed Penalty Tickets.’ Subsequently, the establishment of the ‘Statutory Corporation’ called the ‘Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board (ABTB)’ a peculiar development.


Parliamentarians has given hired civilian employees, with the designation ‘Traffic Wardens,’ ‘Legally Fictionalized Power of Enforcement’ [ABTB: No. 13 of 1995: Section 7A].  Then for all intents and purposes, they were made to function parallel with the ‘Police Service,’ issuing ‘Fixed Penalty Tickets’ for minor traffic infractions. Instructively, even as they perform this particular duty, they do so at grave risk. Interestingly, unlike members of the ‘Police Service,’ having no membership, denies those currently serving with the ‘Legal Status’ contained in the ‘Police Act’ for the enlisted and formally trained Police officers.


Neither have there been provisions in this ‘Act’ that offer; (a) ‘…Security of tenure; (b) …Administrative protection; (d) …Enjoyment of rights, privileges and immunities contained therein; nor (d) …Fringe or retirement benefits’ as guaranteed for ‘Police officers.’ In fact, making ‘Parliamentary Mockery,’ the ‘Traffic Wardens’ are not subject to ‘Police Discipline,’ neither do they exercise powers under the ‘Police Act’ [PA: Chapter 330: Sections 17 – 23: 68]. These said, the most troubling for some non-conforming motorists, has been apparent ever-frequent abuse associated with the ‘Power of Arrest’ by assigned members of the ‘Police Service.’ Not infrequently, many were penalized and left perplexed over their ignorance of law and procedure, and the deceptive exploits of others.


. So too, some apparent overzealous officers continue to arrest violators, not only with impunity, but also under the guise that those motorists have been driving through the ‘Red and Amber Lights.’ Given the ‘Regulations’ relating to ‘Traffic Signs,’ it was considered informationally useful to identify those provided in the law. These were said to include; (i) ‘…All signals: (ii) …Warning; (iii) …Sign posts; (iv) …Direction posts; (v) …Lines; (vi) …Marks; or (vii) …Other devices for the guidance of persons using the roads.’ The law interprets ‘Road’ as; ‘…Any street or open space to which the public are granted access and any bridge over which a road passes; and includes any privately-owned street, road or open space to which the public are granted access, either generally or conditionally’ [VRTA: Chapter 460: Section 2].


Given the statutory offences and penalties contained in the parent ‘Act -Vehicles and Road Traffic’ [VRTA: Chapter 460], adjudicators not sufficiently familiar with the statutory provisions contained therein, could make ‘Mockery of law and Procedure.’ For instance, even when no trial was conducted, they could erroneously order ‘Suspension of Driver’s Licence,’ when such power resides only with the ‘Traffic Commissioner’ [Section 70]. Conversely, the self-convicted motorists could also be ordered ‘Disqualified’ from driving for: (i) ‘…A Stated period; or (ii) …Permanently from holding a ‘Driver’s Licence’ as contained in the ‘Act.’ This, however, is only to the extent that adjudicators know that such a power resides in the ‘Magistracy’ [Section 69]. Moreover, should a ‘Guilty Plea’ or self-convicted motorist be favored with luck, he could be ‘Disqualified’ from driving a motor vehicle for ‘One Week’ [PointeXpress: March 20, 2022].  This, as specified in the ‘Act,’ legitimately speaks to a ‘…Stated Period.’  Most importantly, unless it is considered unsafe to ‘STOP’ in the middle of the junction, only a ‘Jack Donkey’ may bray if a motorist proceeds with ‘Extreme Caution.’ If that motorist was to be taken before a ‘Traffic Court’ in ‘Australia,’ then only a ‘Kangaroo’ that behaves like ‘Russian President, Vladimir Putin,’ may drop a ‘Bomb of Conviction.’ Finally, all are wished ‘Happy Easter Motoring.’  Still, it will be much happier conforming to the ‘Three Traffic Signal Lights’ and avoid the ‘Perils of Arrest.’  ***


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  1. Wow. I actually understood this one. Thanks Mr. Pompey for taking the time out to present some good facts. Could you in the future seek to break it down a little for the average man? For those who are not able to go through the entire article, he appears to be making the point that although we should all drive safely and obey all traffic laws, not everything should be automatically called “dangerous driving” in an attempt to make a public example out of an offender.

    Looking at the actually offense that sparked this discussion. The person 1) disobeyed traffic signals 2) did it an apparently high rate of speed 3) Refused to obey the officer’s signals to stop.

  2. Great article Mr. Pompey with much useful information for the man in the street. The police need to stop putting people in custody for simple traffic infractions. It is an abuse of process.

    • And you need to go check on the little boy you knock down and see if he is OK and not suffering from any long term injury from your careless driving!

    • First, I am not sure why he would have a Vincy ego because he is not from St. Vincent. But I find that you are not acting fairly. Most of us do commit traffic violations by speeding, etc which includes myself. When we get away, we just sing halleluyah. But this driver just got caught in a bad way with cameras rolling.

      Driver was silly as well. Breaking the red light and then refusing to stop especially driving an easily identifiable vehicle – just stupidity.


        Just like ‘…EVIL,’ anything that resembles ‘…INSULARITY,’ is to be shun.

        Now, if this commenter had said the ‘…Author is a Born Vincentian,’ he would be absolutely correct.’

        Got to avoid ‘…INSULARITY.’

        Can guide your knowledge by saying ‘…Senior Sergeant Mc Burnie’ is a ‘…Born Grenadian.’ Darn sure he is so proud to be.

        This commentary is neither about ‘…CHARLES TABOR,’ nor ‘…MC BURNIE.’

        Provided for ‘…Public Knowledge of the Law and procedure.’


    • I do know the facts of the case and I also know Charles Tabor has not looked back on the boy since day!!!

      • Karma is a you seem to know everything about the accident. Was the young man hurt? Was he kept at the hospital? The young man ran into the bonnet of my car running after his pet goat. Thank God he only sustained a few bruises or you can imagine what you and Gaston Browne would want the police and law to do. Although they went all out with their chief police prosecutor Inspector Bontiff to secure a conviction but it was an exercise in futility based on the facts. You need to keep the facts right and stop parading like an IDIOT.

        • Yes he was hurt and yes he was in the hospital. Maybe Dr Steve Richards should have gave evidence. The accident has nothing to do with Gaston Brown but it all has to do with you not even looking back on the kid you wicked son of a b…..pretending to be a decent citizen but wait man karma is a real b…..and when she bites she bites harc

    • Is that u Tabor👀 hiding under an ailias thought u were above that. Seems like this karma person struck a nerve to cause u to do such.

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