EVERYONE who reads my commentaries on AZPNews.com knows by now that the government introduced some new but draconian motor vehicle tint regulations called The Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic (Windscreen and Window Tint) Regulations, 2020. These regulations are freely available online and is contained in Legal Notice No. 281 of 2020 published on July 31, 2020.
While the new regulations came into effect on August 3, 2020, the Ministry of Works and Transport (MOWT) has implemented two moratoriums delaying enforcement. The purpose of the moratoriums, MOWT stated, is to give citizens sufficient time to ensure their vehicles comply with the new regulations. Unless there is a third moratorium, the new regulations will be enforced from June 7, 2021.
Everyone should read the new regulations, especially if they drive a vehicle with tint as they may be directly impacted. However, be warned, reading the new regulations may leave you with more questions than answers. Clarity should have been paramount, but is sadly lacking in some areas. As an attorney, I am unhappy with some of the drafting and foresee the ambiguous and unclear portions of these regulations being subjected to legal challenges in our courts.
One of those questions you may be wondering about, after reading the new regulations, is whether stickers on vehicles will be legal come June 7, 2021. By stickers, I mean all those relatively small but visible “baby on board” and club association type stickers we normally affix to the bottom of our front or back windscreens. Since the gruesome murder of Andrea Bharatt and the ignition of the candlelight vigils movement, even the #protectourwomen stickers are popular amongst car owners.
Section 3(1) of the regulations, which carries a $5,000 fine, states:
“A person shall not cause or permit a vehicle to be used, or drive or have charge of a vehicle, upon any road where a windscreen or window of the vehicle is composed of, coated or covered by, or treated or darkened with, any material, overlay or other product, that has the effect of making the windscreen or window non-transparent …”
In the regulations, stickers are included in the definition of “material”. In considering whether a driver is in breach, a question a constable should ask himself/herself is whether the sticker in question has the effect of making the windscreen or window non-transparent. The million-dollar question is whether that regulation is referring to the transparency of the entire window/windscreen. If yes, then a small five-inch sticker at e.g., the bottom side of a windscreen, should not logically affect such transparency. If no, then any sticker that is not transparent would be illegal.
In the absence of a clear, unambiguously worded regulation, or clear provisions dealing specifically with these types of stickers, one can only wonder how the police would enforce the regulations. At risk of a $5,000 fine, it may be prudent to simply remove your stickers to avoid facing that risk at all. This however, would be a matter for you. Be safe, Trinidad and Tobago.
Copyright © 2021 Neela Ramsundar, LL.B (HONS), L.E.C is a Civil Litigation Attorney at Law & Certified Mediator.
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