PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The Prosecutor’s Office OM SXM aims to collect some NAf 1.8 million in outstanding fines from fine dodgers. The total relates to 3,999 traffic fines issued from 2017 to 2020 by law enforcement for various offences.
However, the total amount may not be collectable based on the initial feedback from the first batch of fine notices sent out by the Prosecutor’s Office.
A total of 1,466 payment notices were issued for fines issued in 2017. The remaining 135 notices for that year will be sent out in this month. These fines amount to NAf 411,591. To date, only 73 fines issued in 2017 have resulted in payments, amounting to only NAf 10,675.
Of the total notices already issued, 217 were returned to OM SXM by Postal Services Sint Maarten (PSS) due to incomplete/incorrect addresses for the fine dodgers. A total of 53 fines were not claimed from mailboxes, 19 (French side) addresses were inaccessible, 87 addresses were incomplete, 64 had unknown addresses, 21 people with fines had moved from their listed addresses, and one person had since passed away.
Further, 30 people from the French side of the island were not known at the address they listed when they received their fines. This was the same for one person on the Dutch side.
There are 1,075 unpaid fines for 2018, amounting to NAf 337,357.
In 2019, 1,016 fines are yet to be paid, total NAf 316,207.
The unpaid fines for 2020 numbered 1,720 fines, totaling NAf 750,704.
When a fine is issued, the recipient has until the court hearing to pay the fine and avoid heading to court. If the court upholds the fine, it is increased by 50 percent from the notification of the court’s decision and six weeks are given to pay the outstanding amount. Should that time elapse, a first notice is sent by OM SXM to person who has been fined and another four weeks is given to pay along with an additional NAf 25.
If the fine is still unpaid after the first reminder period has elapsed, a second reminder is issued with another four weeks given to rectify the fine that has now been increased by 20 per cent accumulatively. At this point, OM SXM may place liens on the assets or the fine dodger may face jail time.
Before Hurricane Irma in September 2017, fine reminders were sent via the surface mail. However, the wide spread destruction of building by the hurricane, the notification avenue had to be forego. The follow-ups on outstanding fines then occurred during police traffic controls.
People with outstanding fines are urged by OM SXM to pay these as soon as possible or face the legal consequences. Fine payments can be made at OM SXM at Emmaplein 1 by debit card only or at the Receiver’s Office (cash and card).