Government warns motorists using cellphones while driving


 The Antigua and Barbuda government has warned motorists that they would be charged if they are found to be eating and using a cell phone while driving.

Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin told Parliament that the amendment to the Vehicles and Road Traffic Act will also allow for the police to administer breathalyzer tests to determine if someone was driving under the influence of alcohol.

“Persons who are driving  …and found to have their telephone by their ears. Persons who are driving, eating, not paying attention to the road, you are going to be charged,” Benjamin told legislators during the debate on the 2019 national budget.

He told Parliament of an incident where he was driving recently and came to a standstill “at the junction and all I heard was (a noise) in the back.

“When I looked back the lady still has the compact in her hand and only came to the attention when her car ran into the back of a car before her,” he added.

When he spoke on the legislation in September, Benjamin told legislators that the police had expressed concern that many traffic collisions were caused by “distracted drivers”.

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    It boggles the mind that the news item is saying ‘…Government warns motorists…’

    An administration may take a legislative initiative to Parliament and enact a law.
    However, law enforcement remains the responsibility of the Police.

    Is there going to be an offence called ‘…Distracted Driving?’

    Perhaps a ‘…Strict Liability offence’ call ‘…Driving and using Cellular phone.’ This would be enforceable when there was no collision.

    When there was an accident, no matter what attributed or who contributed to its occurrence, it will still be one of these;

    (i) …Reckless Driving;
    (ii) …Dangerous Driving; and
    (iii) Careless Driving-
    [Section 56: Vehicles and Road Traffic Act: Chapter 460].

    What the Minister alluded to, is already in the law.
    It is called ‘…Driving without due care and attention.’

    Evidence will show what a driver may have been doing when the accident occurred.

    If that is not readily known, ‘reasonable inferences’ can be drawn by the police and the Courts that the ‘…driver was not paying attention while driving.’

    Invariably, some people will have been seen as trying to ‘…spin a top in mud.’

    • Mr. Pompey. Why is it bothering you what headline the editor chooses. You know they cannot help themselves. Lots of things are in law, and the police is simply not enforcing the law. Even when you were heading the police force. too many people you see everyday driving with one hand on the wheel and the other with a phone on their head. And that while we have all the gadgets to make hands free calls. When it come to traffic in Antigua there is lots of lawlessness going on. And that is allowed because of the absent of the enforcement of the traffic laws. It is a miracle that fights have not broken out because of this. Because when you drive behind someone that suddenly stops in the middle of the road to have a conversation with someone and doesn’t care about the traffic he or she is holding up, it calls for you to take the law in your own hand.

  2. YES! This is right. No eating. No cell phones. No reading. We need to get this destructive drivinhg under control. The fines need to be heavy, heavy, heavy.

  3. What about driving with one hand on the wheel and the other on your big puffy CIGAR? Would Sir Robin support such a bill?

  4. I am wondering who will be charging the police officers caught eating and using cellar phones while driving?

  5. Has anyone seen the actual law? I’ve heard about. But no one has said what it actually is. I heard that it was Gazetted but I haven not seen a Gazette in sometime now. Must be one of those secret laws that the police just enforce when they want to get someone. Worse yet they’ve made it a felony? That will ruin lives. Imagine trying to get a visa to travel and you have a felony police record. No visa for you. Why isn’t it a driving infraction? Somebody messed up big time.

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