Legislative change will allow drivers to remain street legal

The Department of Vehicle and Driver's Licencing office in Crewe Road, George Town.

Motorists will soon be able to renew their vehicle licence without the need for a new certificate of roadworthiness.

The move, made possible by a legal change provisionally approved by legislators Thursday, seeks to allow people to drive legally at a time when physical inspections are impossible.

Residents will still be required to renew their licence, which can be done online.

Amendments to the Traffic Law, brought to the Legislative Assembly Thursday, create a carve-out that allows Cabinet to suspend certain requirements in times of crisis.

“This bill seeks to provide a quick response and flexibility to the traffic law in an emergency, such as natural disasters, outbreaks or pandemics,” said Commerce Minister Joey Hew, as he introduced the legislation.

“We have made it broad enough to allow flexibility in various segments of the law,” he said.

The provision basically allows Cabinet to issue instructions to the director of vehicle licensing to waive any requirements deemed appropriate for a temporary period in times of natural disaster.

In the current circumstances, Hew said, Cabinet would direct that certificates of roadworthiness be extended by three or six months.

“This will allow owners to go online and complete the renewal process,” he said.

The amendment allows Cabinet power to waive other provisions as necessary, but limits this power to times of natural disaster.

The bill, approved for a second reading by legislators Thursday morning, states that the powers can be invoked, “If at any time there has been an earthquake, or there has been or there is an immediate threat of a hurricane, flood, fire, outbreak of pestilence, outbreak of infectious disease or other calamity.”

Minister Hew said similar provisions had been put into UK legislation after the SARS outbreak in 2004.

“It gives us flexibility as we know the situation we are in right now is quite fluid and continues to change and evolve,” said Hew. 

“None of us has the glass ball to see what the future holds for us.”

Government is considering a series of emergency coronavirus-related bills in a special session of the Legislative Assembly, with some members dialling in via Zoom video-link, for the first time in Cayman’s history, to allow social distancing to be observed.

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