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Demystifying Everyday Legal Issues

Any Advocate will tell you that everyday they are consistently being asked any number of questions on issues that face Kenyans whenever they are stopped by the police either while walking or while driving and as such I have attempted to answer a few of them:-

  1. Do backseat passengers in a private motor vehicle need safety belts?

Rule 22A (3) of the Traffic Rules requires every person in a motor vehicle which is in motion on a road and who occupies a seat in that vehicle to wear the seat belt failing which the person is to pay a fine of KShs. 500/=.

  1. Are tinted window in private motor vehicles illegal?

Rule 54A of the Traffic Rules prohibits any person to drive or operate a public service vehicle that has tinted windows and the section does not apply to private motor vehicles.

  1. Is it a must that you carry a driving licence?

Section 36 of the Traffic Act states that on demand by an officer, any person driving a motor vehicle on a road shall produce their driving licence or provisional licence for examination and that also includes any other evidence as will satisfy the police that you have a valid licence. Therefore, it is not mandatory that you have your original licence any other document that can show you have a lawfully issued licence would suffice.

  1. Is carrying a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and safety triangle a legal requirement?

Rule 56 of the Traffic Rules requires every motor omnibus and matatu to have a fire extinguisher and first aid-kit and the same should be maintained and should be readily available for inspection as well as in case of an emergency.

There is no requirement to have this in private motor vehicles.
The question then becomes how many occupants in a matatu know how to use a fire extinguisher? Or even first aid?

  1. On a traffic offence being discovered, does the police officer have a right to enter your car?

Neither the Traffic Act nor the Traffic Rules made thereunder allow a police officer to enter your motor vehicle upon arrest. In the case of minor offences, the police officer should in fact serve you in person with a notification requiring you to attend court to answer to charges or affix the notification prominently on your motor vehicle.

  1. Is there any grace speed limit?

Section 70 (5B) of the Traffic Act gives a grace limit of up to 20 kilometres on a highway

  1. What are the speed limits in Kenya?

In areas where there are children, near schools the limit is 30km/h

Around towns or municipalities the limit is 50km/h

  1. Are bull bars legal?

There is no provision that prohibits having bull bars

  1. Do you need to carry your original Identity Card or Alien Card wherever you go?

There is no law that requires a person to carry their original Identity Card or Alien Card wherever they go. Section 10 of the Registration of Persons Act provides that one must produce identification documents within a reasonable time if asked to do so.

  1. As a tourist, how do you prove you are in Kenya legally if you do not have your original passport on you?

  1. For those that have dual citizenship, can one use their passports alternatively as they wish?

(have not yet found an express provision of the law on the matter. The general advice and commentary of the internet is that one should always travel with both passports and us them thus: if one is a Citizen of Kenya and the US and is travelling to the US then the person should use the US passport travelling to the US and the Kenyan passport on the journey back to Kenya.)

  1. When asked in visa applications to declare previous convictions, are traffic convictions included?


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