Heavy fines demanded for leaving scene of accident

POSTED: 08/30/12 12:41 PM

St. Maarten – The Public Prosecutor’s Office is making work these days of serious traffic violations. Among them is one well-known bad habit of islanders: taking off after causing an accident. Yesterday two of these cases were handled in the Court in First Instance and they both ended badly for the defendants with fines of 1,000 and 1,500 guilders.
Jermaine Damion A., 26, caused an accident on July 29 when he overtook a car and then was unexpectedly confronted with a car coming from the opposite direction. He steered to the right too early, thereby causing damages to the car he had just overtaken.
“If something goes wrong in traffic you have to stop and identify yourself,” prosecutor Dounia Benammar said. “Leaving the place of an accident is a crime.”
The prosecutor said she could have charged the defendant with driving without a license, or with reckless driving, but the crime of leaving the place of an accident took preference. “The punishment for these crimes varies from fines and community service to revoking drivers licenses,” mr. Benammar said. “And if you have no driver’s license, the insurance will not pay any damages.”
She demanded a 1,500 guilders fine or 60 days imprisonment.
Attorney mr. Geert Hatzmann noted that the way his client had been tricked into making a confession at the police station represents a violation of the fair play principle (see story: “Think attorney”). He asked the court to exclude his client’s confession from evidence and to acquit him.
Judge Tamara Tijhuis wanted to study the guidelines the prosecutor’s office uses for this type of traffic violation before she pronounces her verdict. The date for the ruling was set at September 19.
This was also the case for Alvin Janvier L., a 64-year-old that caused an accident on the L.B. Scott Road on July 15, and then took off.
Unlike Jermaine A., who did not turn up in court out of fear for the judicial authorities, L. was right there and he confessed to what he had done.“I was dead wrong,” he told the court.
The defendant paid the damages to the owner of the other car – $1,500 – within a couple of days after the accident. L. said that he had panicked after the accident whereby he broadsided another car. The impact shoved that car to the other side of the road. After two people advised him, L. finally went to the police.
“You paid for the damages, that is good,” prosecutor Benammar said. “That does not happen often enough.” She demanded a 1,000 guilders fine.

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