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The traffic police are clamping down hard on motorists driving or riding without a valid licence – those caught will no longer be stung with a compound fine as before, but will now be hauled straight to court for the offence, according to The Sun. Reportedly enforced since the middle of last month, the new ruling has seen thousands of unlicensed drivers and motorcyclists reprimanded and charged in court.

The move comes amid the steep rise in the number of such offences over the past few years – with the police nabbing more than 630,000 motorists without possession of a licence in 2014 and 2015 – which is claimed to be a leading contributor to the high number of road accidents recorded each year.

Motorists who are found guilty of committing the offence could face a fine of up to RM1,000 or a year in jail, or both, under Section 26 of the Road Transport Act; they could also be charged under Section 90 for driving without insurance coverage, which carries a fine of up to RM2,000 or three months in prison, or both.

Speaking to the English language daily, federal traffic police chief SAC Mahamad Akhir Darus said that the doubling down on unlicensed motorists was aimed at educating them on the dangers of driving without a valid licence. “A driver or rider without a licence has not undergone formal training or tests,” he said. “They may not know anything about traffic laws, road signs or defensive driving.

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“Hence, they are not just a a danger to other road users but to themselves as well. We intend to send out a strong message that we do not condone the actions of such offenders. It is neither to burden them nor to collect revenue. It’s to educate them. The police force is an enforcement agency and not one that collects revenue.”

Akhir added that the police would no longer be issuing compound summonses for driving without a licence, but will instead seize the offender’s vehicle and issue the driver or motorcyclist with a court order.

“Since they do not have a licence, it would be unlawful to allow them to continue using the vehicle,” he said. “Hence, we will bar the offender from driving it and seize the vehicle. The owner of the vehicle will then be summoned to show up to collect it. The vehicle owner will also be issued with a RM300 fine for allowing an unlicensed driver to use the vehicle.”

Inspector-general of police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar announced the impending move back in February, saying it was to ensure that road users took the matter seriously and be responsible on the road. “There are many accidents and fatalities caused by those without licences,” he said.