Hefty fines for violation of traffic rules
It is now official: A driver convicted of drink-driving will be jailed for two years or slapped with a fine of Sh100,000.
The move follows President Uhuru Kenyatta’s assent to the Traffic Amendment Bill aimed at streamlining traffic laws.
It was sponsored by Tiaty MP William Kamket.
Drivers convicted of the offence will be slapped with a fine or both. Previously, drink-driving attracted a fine of Sh10,000 and a jail term of one month before the piece of regulation was overturned by the Court of Appeal after it outlawed the use of breathalyzers.
As a measure of caution, convicted drivers will have their licences suspended for a minimum of one year.
The changes were contained in the Traffic Amendment Bill, which sought to alter matters to do with traffic rules and regulations. Also to be affected are drivers caught speeding on designated highways and roads.
Henceforth, drivers who exceed speed limits will have their licences invalidated for up to three years, in addition to facing six months in jail and a minimum fine of Sh20,000.
New legislation opens the way for the return of Alcoblow, which was outlawed following a ruling by the Court of Appeal in 2017.
The court ruled then that the Alcoblow rules, which were being implemented by the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA), were illegal, arguing that they were poorly drafted.
A three-judge Bench of Justices GBM Kariuki, Fatuma Sichale and Festus Azangalala directed Parliament to review the law after a petitioner challenged the use of breathalyzers. Traffic law has now been cleaned to do away with ambiguities that saw the ban of the Alcoblow.
The law has also clarified who a drunk driver is and the measures to be taken against them.
It states: “Any person, who when driving or attempting to drive or in charge of a motor vehicle on a road is under the influence of an alcoholic drink or a drug beyond the prescribed limits, shall be guilty of an offence.”
Breathalyzers will be used as an objective test to quantify scientific implications such as the prescribed limits.
The test shall only be administered by NTSA officers and Traffic Police Unit.
Moving the Bill before the House adjourned sine die, Kamket said if passed into law, the country will experience an active improvement in actually enacting traffic laws and imposing strict punishments on offenders.
Other changes contained in the new law include giving powers to NTSA to inspect vehicles above four years from the date of manufacture.
Authority will also determine the intervals and frequency at which it will inspect motor vehicles. “Every vehicle that has been operated for a period exceeding four years from the recorded date of manufacture shall be subjected to inspection at intervals to be determined by NTSA,” the Act.
Proposed law further gives NTSA the power to hire private entities to conduct motor vehicle inspections on its behalf.
There are only 17 Motor Vehicle Inspection Units in Kenya and changes in the Traffic Act will see NTSA designate persons or firms to conduct inspections on its behalf.
Previously, private car owners have been paying between Sh2,000 and Sh3,900 for inspections based on the vehicle’s engine capacity.
Under the new law, the authority is now free to adjust the rates in line with the requirements of the legislation, which include the age, and road worthiness of the vehicle.
Inspection rates for motorcycles and auto-rickshaws go for Sh1,300 while five-tonne trucks are charged Sh2,000. Those exceeding 5,000 kilogrammes are charged Sh4,600.
Initially, all motorists paid a flat rate of Sh1,000 for inspection irrespective of the vehicle’s engine capacity.
NTSA first mooted the idea to change inspection rules in 2019 in an attempt to tame increasing road accidents owing to unroadworthy vehicles.