Anyone found driving on a public road outside of the curfew hours will be penalized up to $750. At the same time, the Department of Public Safety clarified yesterday that the rumor that one will be exempted from the curfew rule if you drive with your hazard lights turned on is false.
Under the curfew mandate of the CNMI COVID-19 Emergency Directive, released by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, no one is allowed to loiter or be in, on, or about any public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, public buildings, amusement and entertainment spots, and vacant lots and places from 7pm to 6am.
This includes individuals who will be found driving on public roads.
“The Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force will continue to take proactive steps to protect the health and safety of CNMI residents. …Because of the work we have done together, our curve remains flat,” he said in a recent interview. “By following these guidelines, we can continue to keep our islands safe and protect our man’amko, our chronically sick, and our loved ones.”
First-time curfew violators will be fined $200 and second-time offenders will be fined $500. Those who will be found violating the third time or more will be subjected to a $750 fine, and/or will have his or her vehicle impounded by DPS.
Even passengers will be fined. Each passenger in a vehicle found driving on a public road outside of the curfew hours will be fined $100 for a first-time offense, $200 for a second-time offense, and $300 for a third-time or more offense.
Law enforcement officers, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel, and first responders on-duty, as well as those who are lawfully-employed during the curfew hours, and are driving to or from their workplace, are exempt from the fines.
Those going to or returning from admission to the hospital or completion of medical treatment such as hemodialysis are also exempt.
DPS is also reminding everyone to carry their credentials when driving. On-the-spot verifications will be conducted for individuals found on the road during the implemented curfew hours.
DPS also said yesterday that it has noticed an increase in the display of vehicle hazards during the 7pm through 6am curfew. When stopped, the drivers would say that they were “told” by friends and family members that they would not be pulled over if they turned on their vehicle’s hazard lights while driving during curfew hours. This is false, DPS said.
The use of hazards during the curfew hours does not deem the operator exempt from the mandatory traffic stop. The mandatory traffic stop is conducted to adhere to the curfew mandate and to verify that only first responders, medical workers, law enforcement officers, and private sector employees on duty are heading to or from work.