Drivers told to phone NCT for appointment after points rise

Motorists caught without valid certificate now subject to increased penalty and fine

The National Car Testing Service has said the “website is no indication of the available slots”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

The National Car Testing Service has said the “website is no indication of the available slots”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

All National Car Test (NCT) appointments can be organised within two weeks if motorists inquire through the right means, the organisation has confirmed.

As of Monday, motorists caught driving a vehicle without a valid NCT certificate will be subject to a fixed-charge penalty notice of three points, up from two, and a fine.

Offenders can choose to accept a fine and points on the spot, or take the case to court, where they may be liable to a heavier penalty of five points.

“The website is no indication of the available slots out there either. That’s why we’re saying to people to phone us so we can put them on the priority list in order to get an appointment within two weeks,” said the spokesperson, who confirmed that the national average waiting time is 11 days.

The spokesperson added that although the announcement of revised punishments for driving without a valid certificate has led to a surge in demand for appointments, The testing service would “generally be recruiting at this time of year anyway” and have not hired more staff solely in anticipation of the changes.

“The introduction of new penalty points measures has increased demand, but in saying that the Road Safety Authority has been running an advertising campaign since September,” she added.

Welcoming the latest penalty points announcements, AA Ireland director of policy Conor Faughnan has said that there is “no excuse” for a lengthy delay in receiving an NCT.

Legal requirement

“There is no excuse for a protracted delay for getting the NCT done, so we would encourage people to get on and comply as soon as they can,” he said.

“It’s a legal requirement, it’s no different as a legal requirement on Sunday as compared to Monday. You’re not allowed drive a car around if it has an NCT cert that isn’t fit. The law isn’t changed in that regard, the only thing that’s changed is the punishment,” he added.

The news comes as Fianna Fáil spokesman on transport Timmy Dooley condemned Minister for Transport Paschal Donohue for introducing such changes without first addressing the NCT backlog.

“This morning the Minister confirmed that motorists driving without an NCT cert will be fined and given penalty points, even if they have booked an appointment,” said Mr Dooley.

“I believe the Minister should re-examine this situation until the delays have eased. Test centres should be forced to recruit additional staff to help clear the backlog and manage the increased demand.”

According to statistics released from the Central Statistics Office earlier this week, 53 per cent of cars that applied for an NCT failed at the first try, although 94 per cent gained certification after subsequent attempts. Gardaí issued 1,877 penalty-point notices to people driving without valid NCT certification last year.