PETALING JAYA: The Road Transport Department (RTD) must have Parliament amend the law before it thinks about hauling traffic offenders to court.
Lawyers say nowhere in the Road Transport Act does it say the RTD has the right to drag offenders to court for traffic crimes when they can be fined.
They say if RTD wants to prosecute offenders for a traffic offence, the law has first to be amended to redefine which offences can be compounded and which cannot.
RTD director-general Nadzri Siron was reported to have told New Straits Times that the RTD would be hauling traffic offenders straight to court under its Chinese New Year operations if they committed seven particular road offences.
The offences are overtaking along double lines; driving in the emergency lanes; driving while talking on the phone; running red lights; not fastening the seat belts; jumping queues; and not wearing helmets.
“No compound (fine) will be issued,” he was quoted as saying.
Nadzri said traffic offenders could face the maximum fine of RM2,000 imposed by the courts.
Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai had also warned motorists to obey traffic laws during the Chinese New Year festive period as certain offences would not be compoundable and offenders will be hauled to court.
Lawyer Visvanathan Murugiah has questioned the validity of such action.
“Is he (Nazri) authorised to arrest people? How can the DG make a compoundable offence non-compoundable?”
Visvanathan said the RTD should seek to have the Road Transport Act to be amended so it would have powers to arrest individuals for traffic offences.
“Otherwise, the police would be seen as exercising powers beyond the law.”
Another lawyer, Cantius Leo Camoens, said as a public officer, Nadzri “cannot go on his own volition”.
“He should go by the book on what powers he is given by the law. Suggest amending the Road Transport Act if he wants to do more.”
He also told RTD to be considerate of the current backlog of cases in the magistrate’s courts.
“They want to bring offenders to court for traffic wrongdoings. Such action would add to the workload of the deputy public prosecutors and the courts,” Camoens said.