Can the police detain a vehicle for a minor traffic infraction?

Dear Editor,

On June 27 it was published in a letter in Stabroek News that a motor car was ordered into Cove and John police compound and the passenger (tourist Nalini Mohabir), after being ordered out of the vehicle, was left stranded on the public road with her suitcases. The police held her car because it had stopped so the passengers could purchase cane juice from a roadside stand (‘Police behaviour not a boost to tourism’).

Is this one of the clauses in the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act whereby the police can detain a motor vehicle willy nilly for minor infractions? I was of the impression that the police can detain any vessel, aircraft or vehicle under the following circumstances:-

a.   If it is suspected that anything which has been stolen or is suspected to have been stolen is being conveyed therein.

b.    If it was used in the commission of any crime.

c.    If the driver is under the influence of drink or drugs so as to be incapable of controlling that vehicle.

It must be noted that minor traffic offences are not criminal offences.

It was also my impression that a motor vehicle can only be detained by a certifying officer and before doing so he must give you a notice to present the vehicle to be examined at a time and date at a particular place.

If my comments have any merit I hope the legal fraternity takes note and there is a response from the Police Public Relations Officer to clear up any misconceptions.

Yours faithfully,
Walter Dipchand

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