Drivers prosecuted for failing to produce licence in court
More than 20 motorists before Dublin court in first prosecutions of their kind
Under new legislation, drivers can be prosecuted for not producing their driving licences in court. Photograph: David Sleator
In the first prosecutions of their kind in Ireland, 21 motorists were brought before Dublin District Court on Monday for allegedly failing to produce a driving licence while in court to face traffic offences.
The defendants had all previously been before the courts for offences including speeding and driving while using a mobile phone.
They were required, under the Road Traffic Acts, to produce their licences at the time of their cases, so that the penalty points awarded to them by the court could be placed on them, but they allegedly failed to do so.
In the first case called, the defendant said he was a day late paying a fine and was summonsed to appear in court. He didn’t contest the imposition of four penalty points on his licence while in court, he said, but he had left his licence in the car. There was no issue with that at the time, he said.
He told the judge he subsequently rang “the office in Tipperary” and was told the four points had in fact been placed on his licence. He said he was perplexed as to why he had now been called to appear in court again.
Judge Keane asked how points could be allocated if the motorist had not produced his licence.
Sgt Heneghan responded that if the court had assigned points on a previous occasion, the court system might hold details of the licence. He asked the judge to adjourn the case so that he could “seek clarity” on whether or not the points had actually been placed on the licence.
The judge told the defendant if it was established that the points were on the licence, he would be excused from court on the next occasion and the case would be struck out.
When the second defendant was called, Sgt Heneghan said he had failed to produce his licence when attending court in January this year, for holding a mobile phone while driving.
Before the case could proceed, the judge asked the garda to address her on “when specifically” the legislation came into effect, “specifically Statutory Instrument 332 of 2015”.
The garda said he would have to ask for the case to be put back for him to answer that legal question.
There was no solicitor present in court from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. A small number of the 21 defendants had legal representation.
“It is a legal point, but it needs to be clarified,” Judge Keane said. “I can’t deal with this today; I believe it is unsafe to do so.”
She adjourned the case to November 12th, along with each of the other cases listed.