New road regulations to give wardens greater powers
● Points system to be extended to all drivers
Wardens will be authorised to carry out breathalyser tests and will also be granted the power to temporarily detain uncooperative drivers until the police arrive, according to planned new traffic regulations.
Justice Minister Owen Bonnici yesterday launched a White Paper on the reform of the country’s traffic, which will be subject to a 15-day public consultation exercise.
Dr Bonnici said wardens will have the power to carry out breathalyser tests on drivers if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is driving under the influence. If the driver refuses to take the test, or fails the test, the warden will be able to detain that person pending the arrival of the police.
According to statistics provided by the Minister during the press conference, 183 people were arraigned based on the results of breathalyzer tests last year, of whom 104 were found guilty.
The proposed regulations also include the extension of the provisional points system to all drivers. The conditions will, however, be less harsh than those of the present system.
It was explained that a driver whose licence has been revoked, following the acquisition of more than 12 traffic points in the space of a year, will be able to obtain a new driving licence two months after the revocation date without the need to take a new driving test.
A driver whose licence is revoked for a second time within a three-year period can get a new licence after two months but will have to retake the driving test.
If a licence is revoked for a third time within five years, the driver may only have his licence granted upon the submission of application one year after the revocation date, unless a magistrate awards a shorter timeframe.
A driver whose licence has been revoked for a fourth time within a seven-year period can only submit an application for a new licence if authorised by a court, and only after two years from the revocation date.
It is also being proposed that it should be made possible for a driver in possession of a full driving licence to have penalty points reduced by half if he/she attends a course on road safety awareness approved by Transport Malta.
Dr Bonnici said that the fine for driving without a licence and or using false number plates will be increase and the court will be able to suspend the licence of the person involved without a request being made by the prosecution. If the person does not have a licence, then he/she person will be required to appear in court before applying, the Minister said.
According to the White Paper, the penalty for driving without a licence will increase from €232 to a maximum of €1,200 and the possible three months’ imprisonment will also be extended to one year.
He announced that an increase in the punishment for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be implemented. In addition, the courts will be able to order probation and a rehabilitation programme in such cases.
A new system of permissible alcohol limits will also be adopted, more in line with the usual European approach.