10 Traffic Laws Kenyan Motorists Can Use to Avoid Jail Term

Traffic Police Conducting Arrest
Traffic Police officers conducting arrest on December 26, 2020.

Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Ann Amadi released the updated traffic offence regulations aimed to decongest police cells and prisons by making life less difficult for traffic offenders.

Amadi noted that while the Traffic Act, Chapter 403 of the Laws of Kenya, is the primary legislation governing traffic cases, it was necessary for the justice system to provide guidance for police officers.

She clarified that the Act sets out the rules of the road, the penalties for traffic offences, and the powers of law enforcement officers but for the sake of proper administration of justice, it was necessary for the Judiciary to guide how the cases will be adjudicated in court.

Judiciary Leadership
Chief Justice Martha Koome (Left), Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi (Centre) and Deputy chief justice Philomena Mwilu (Right) after swearing-in President William Ruto on September 13, 2022.


The updated guidelines:

i) No traffic offender shall be held by police for offences punishable by a fine only or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.

ii) No accused persons in traffic cases will be locked up in cells without first being granted time, place and adequate facilities to pay fines or bail.

iii) Traffic courts shall process payment of traffic fines in open court.

iv) Release on reasonable bail or bond conditions pending charge or trial for all other traffic offenders shall be fast-tracked.

v) A suspected offender shall be issued with court summons or a Notification to Attend Court (NTAC) on a convenient date within seven days. The Notice shall clearly indicate the charges, the court and the time to take plea.

vi) The offender must attend court on the date and time indicated in the NTAC to take a plea.

vii) Before the plea is taken, the Magistrate shall ensure that any cash bail collected by the Police from the suspect/accused is availed in Court.

viii) The offender must remit to court the maximum amount payable for the offence(s) cited if he or she opts to plead guilty in writing upon issuance of the NTAC.

ix) Committal warrant for prison custody will only be issued if the offender is unable to pay the fine/cash bail after reasonable time and facilities.

x) If the offender does not attend court, the cash bail will be forfeited and a warrant of arrest issued.

The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary also noted that the Traffic Act is supplemented by a number of regulations, including the Traffic Rules, the Traffic Penalties (Summary Proceedings) Rules, and the Traffic (Driving Licences) Regulations.

These regulations provide more detailed guidance on the implementation of the Traffic Act against such offences including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, reckless driving, driving without a valid driver's license, driving without insurance, using a mobile phone while driving, not wearing a seatbelt, driving through a red light and overtaking on a solid line.

The penalties for traffic offences in Kenya vary depending on the severity of the offence. For example, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can result in a fine of up to Ksh200,000 or imprisonment for up to one year, or both. Speeding can result in a fine of up to Ksh10,000 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both.

Law enforcement officers in Kenya have the power to stop and search vehicles, and to issue traffic tickets. If stopped by a police officer, you should cooperate with the officer and provide your driver's license, registration, and insurance information. You should also be polite and respectful to the officer.

If you are issued a traffic ticket, you have the option of paying the fine, contesting the ticket in court, or requesting a hearing before a traffic magistrate.

If you contest the ticket, you will need to appear in court and present your evidence. If you are found guilty of the offence, you will be liable to pay the fine and any other applicable penalties.

The Traffic Act is a complex piece of legislation, and it is important to seek legal advice if you have any questions about traffic offences in Kenya.

Amadi also warned both Judicial officers and police that corruption will not be tolerated by her office or the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

"The Judiciary will deal firmly with corruption cartels operating in its precincts. If you have to pay cash, only do so to an authorised court staff who will issue an official receipt.

"Mobile money payment system has been rolled out. Check with respective court stations. You can also pay your fine/bail through KCB Mtaani, the nearest KCB Branch or any other bank as advised by the respective Court Station.

Amadi also stated that Traffic police officers can only arrest offenders or detain offending vehicles in serious offences such as causing death by dangerous driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving a vehicle without insurance.

"These cases will however be fast-tracked. The NCAJ urges the public to help enforce these directions by reporting any violations to the Judiciary Ombudsman," Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Ann Amadi assured. 

Law enforcement officers on the road during an road sensitisation exercise oragnised by the National Transport and Safety Authority on Monday May 8, 2023
Law enforcement officers on the road during a road sensitisation exercise organised by the National Transport and Safety Authority on Monday, May 8, 2023.
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