The move from a transport crime to an infringement notice with instant fines has highlighted yet another gaping hole in the transport law, this time affecting learning drivers.
Chief of Police Tim Wilson told BCN news that this is a very difficult situation with the existing transport law allows a fourteen-year-old to apply for a driver’s license but the problem with this law is that there is no legal way to teach someone to drive.
“You have to be able to prove that you are competent behind the wheel to drive a car. You have to take a driving test. The question is how do you have someone pass a driving test if they’re not yet eligible to learn how to drive. There is no legal way under Niue law to teach someone to drive”.
Another problem is that the legal system in Niue does not have a juvenile system which means that a young person not yet 18 years old will be treated like an adult. If a fourteen-year-old is caught on the road without a driver’s license they will still be issued a fine of $150.
Chief of Police Tim Wilson says that parents need to also understand that with the current law as it is they are also complicit in a crime if they willingly allow their child to drive without a license. “If they are allowing their children to drive without a license, that is also a crime. So, what could happen is that the child is given a ticket and the parents are also dealt with through the court as well because they are not allowed to allow someone to drive without a license. This is up to the discretion of the Police Officer”.
However, come first of June when the instant fines will come into effect the Police will not be issuing infringement notices to those youth who are legitimately learning to drive with their parents.
The Chief says that these gaps in the law needs to be addressed. Chief Wilson says there should be a graduated licensing system like in other countries where young learners will start with a learner’s license, then move on to a provisional license before graduating to a full license.
The Niue transport law was amended in 2015 to make provisions for infringement notices but the lawyers and the lawmakers missed this gaping hole for young learning drivers.
Earlier this year, BCN news exposed another gap in the transport law with no licensing process for drivers and operators of heavy machinery on the island.