The police have reminded motorists that they have two months to settle summonses issued for traffic offences and failure to do so will result in being blacklisted, which will make it impossible to renew their driving licence and vehicle roadtax. While this procedure is nothing new, it has not been strictly applied to those summonses which have been sent by postal mail, probably because the police have felt that it is possible for such documents to be 'lost in the post’.
The stricter enforcement is probably related to the introduction of the National Automated Enforcement System (AES) which will see the installation of a huge number of cameras around the country to photograph motorists committing offences. This will mean an increased number of summonses being sent by post and the police don’t want their already large number of unsettled summonses to grow further.
Summonses sent by post are usually for offences where there is no chance for the police officer to personally hand over the summons on the spot. Examples would be offences caught by unmanned redlight or speedtrap cameras. In such cases, the police will obtain the address of the vehicle owner from the JPJ database and send the summons by registered post.
From news reports, it has been evident that many motorists do not update the JPJ when they change their address so many summonses do not reach the offenders who later plead that they never knew about them. It is therefore in your interest to ensure that your address is up to date in the JPJ records as it is also an offence not to notify the JPJ when you change your address. It is unlikely that such an excuse will be accepted and in any case, if the blacklisting specifies your MyKad number, then you can’t renew your driving licence.
It should however be noted that a summons is not a charge and should not be treated as confirmation of being guilty of an offence. Many people do not read the wording on the summons sheet and do not see that it says that you are accused of having committed an offence under a certain law and you are offered two options. The first is to pay the compound fine (if applicable), which means you admit your guilt and agree to settle the matter by paying the fine. The second is that you may ask for a court hearing if you feel you are not guilty. A date is actually indicated on the summons for you to present yourself in a court to provide notification that you want a hearing. This date is usually the same date as the expiry of your option to pay the fine.
Going to court to argue your innocence is your right since you are considered 'innocent until proven guilty’ in Malaysia. However, many motorists choose to just settle the fine even though they may not be guilty because our court system has such a huge backlog that it may take some time for their case to be processed. And so far, it’s never been clear whether they will be blacklisted during the period before their case is heard. Technically, they cannot be blacklisted since they remain innocent until proven guilty and perhaps this is one reason why the police have not been strict on the postal summons. With summonses issued on the spot and acknowledged by the motorist, the chances of a challenge in court is much lower.
For those who are owners of vehicles but were not the drivers at the time of the alleged offence, you may be able to escape being charged if you can provide the police with details of the person who was driving the car at that time. This information can be filled in on the summons sheet and returned to the police, who will then go after the actual driver.
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