'No way out' for points dodgers
Penalty point-dodging motorists will have "no way out" after moves to shut down a loophole that lets thousands off the hook, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has warned.
Almost 22,000 drivers were brought before the courts last year for motoring offences which carry points, but nearly three quarters walked away without the sanction because they did not bring their driving licence.
It is already an offence under the Road Traffic Act for motorists to fail to produce a driving licence, with penalties ranging from up to a 1,000 euro fine to a three-month prison sentence.
Ms Fitzgerald confirmed the Garda are now implementing a crackdown on drivers who fail to bring their licences with them to court hearings.
"It is essential that our road traffic laws are both respected and enforced," she said.
"Enforcement and prosecution of offences in this area is critical to public safety and to reducing deaths on our roads.
"There must be no way out for anybody seeking to avoid getting penalty points and I welcome the initiative by An Garda Siochana to commence prosecutions for failure to present driving licences in court."
Courts Service figures show 21,709 motorists were convicted under the Road Traffic Act of a penalty point offence last year.
However, only 8,059 persons had their driver licence number recorded on the Criminal Case Tracking System, meaning the remaining 13,650 were able to escape penalty points if there was no other way of matching their details on the system.
As well as the crackdown, the Department of Justice said an expert group is also studying other possible measures to help match driving licence details to penalty points.
Separately today, new Garda powers have come into effect allowing the arrest of disqualified drivers stopped behind the wheel.
Around one in 10 disqualified drivers has been prosecuted in recent years for flouting the ban.
Until today, they could wait months before legal proceedings ordered them before courts.
Under the new order, signed into law by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe, a disqualified driver can be arrested immediately and brought before the next court sitting.