Owners of unlicensed vehicles are getting a six-month amnesty, starting from Monday, during which their unpaid backlog of licensing fees will be waived.

The Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing announced this week that, beginning April 29 and continuing until Nov. 1, an amnesty will be in place to ‘hit reset’ for those drivers with mounting unpaid fees. Customers will only have to pay fees to license their car going forward and all back fees will be written off.

Once the amnesty ends, customers will no longer be able to write off their back fees and will, again, become liable for the costs associated with their unlicensed vehicle, the DVDL stated. Vehicle licence fees for cars begin at $180 a year.

Prospect MLA Austin Harris highlighted the issue of unlicensed or unregistered cars earlier this month when he told lawmakers in the Legislative Assembly that statistics show there are 37,406 unlicensed vehicles in the Cayman Islands, compared to 42,459 registered, roadworthy vehicles.

Next steps

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The DVDL said there are several options available to customers under the amnesty. It advises owners that, if their vehicle is roadworthy, they should keep the registration plates.

Customers who wish to re-license, sell or transfer ownership of their vehicle should come into their local DVDL office (Crewe Road, Breakers, Cayman Brac or Little Cayman) to have their vehicle inspected. They can then re-license the vehicle and avoid the fees that have accrued during the unlicensed period.

“It is important that customers choosing this amnesty pathway do not place their registration plates into the amnesty drop boxes, which will be stationed at all DVDL locations,” the department stated in a press release.

Owners of unroadworthy vehicles who intend to repair the cars and put them back on the road, can visit the DVDL location to suspend their vehicle until repairs are complete. In those circumstances, drivers should retain their licence plates, but must suspend their vehicle within the amnesty period to avoid further back-fees.

If the vehicle is still in the owner’s possession, but will not return to the road, customers are asked to remove the plates, drop them off at any DVDL location and take the vehicle to the George Town landfill.

If the vehicle is no longer in the legal owner’s possession, for example, as a result of a natural disaster, but the owner still has the registration plates, those can be dropped off with no questions asked, according to the DVDL. This can be done with or without the corresponding log book, at any DVDL location.

Fees dating back to 2004

Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew said in a statement, “Government has recognised that circumstances beyond some persons’ control may have led to a backlog of fees going back to [2004’s Hurricane] Ivan in some cases; some were unable to keep up with the fees, whereas others just forgot to terminate the vehicle prior to disposal.

“In response, Government has made the decision to provide a one-time relief for persons to catch up with their licensing fees and bring vehicles back into compliance to clear up the register without penalty.”

According to the DVDL, the aim of the amnesty is also to reduce the number of “unsightly and abandoned vehicles across the country”, and the DVDL is encouraging owners of derelict vehicles to dispose of their cars and trucks at the George Town landfill if they no longer wish to drive them.

The department is also reminding registered owners that they can face charges under the Cayman Islands Litter Law if vehicles are left derelict and abandoned.

Renewal of vehicle licences can be done at any DVDL location, or online at www.dvdl.gov.ky or www.eservices.gov.ky. Drivers can also check whether new plates are ready for collection using the online tool on the DVDL website.

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