Fewer than half of drivers appearing before the courts are bringing their licence to court so that penalty points can be applied, despite the introduction of a new law requiring them to do so.
According to figures from the Department of Justice, only 45 per cent of the 4,072 drivers convicted of a motoring offence during the four-month period between May and June this year had penalty points applied to their licence.
The chairman of the Road Safety Authority Gay Byrne wrote to the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, in May to express his frustration at this issue.
"Large numbers of drivers are still not required to produce their driving licence in court despite the Oireachtas passing legislation requiring courts to do so," he wrote. "It is a specific offence not to produce a licence in court and we ask that, as Minister, you intervene with the Court Service to ensure that licences are produced and, in instances where they are not produced, that An Garda Siochána are provided with information to allow them to follow up with those motorists."
Mr Byrne also encouraged the Minister to work with his Cabinet colleagues to develop a system that would “ensure as many offences as possible are moved out of courts and moved into a fixed charge notice system”.
Section 63 of the Road Traffic Act (2010) was introduced to close a loophole that has seen 83,000 drivers escape 365,795 penalty points since 2002 because they did not bring their licence to court. Responding to a Dáil question from Labour’s Tommy Broughan, Mr Shatter said that despite the new legislation no driver has been prosecuted for failing to bring their licence to court.
Parc founder Susan Gray said members of her organisation were attending court sittings and that the level of licences being handed in was a disgrace. “We delivered a report on this to the Department of Transport last year.”
Fine of up to €1,000
Motorists who fail to bring their licence to court are liable for a fine of up to €1,000.
While the proportion of driving licences brought to court remains low, it is a significant improvement on the May to June period in 2012, when just 26 per cent of licences were brought to court.
Since May 16th summons issued for motoring offences have stated the requirement to bring their licence to court.