Gardaí would be ‘demoralised’ over low conviction rates for driving without licence

Cavan and Monaghan had lowest rate, with 4 per cent of those charged being convicted

Garda members working to prosecute people driving without licences would be “very demoralised” by revelations that just 4 per cent of cases reaching the courts in some counties were convicted, a road-safety campaign group has said.

Parc was responding to details of the low rate of conviction contained in information released by the Courts Service via the Department of Justice.

The lowest rate of conviction was in Cavan and Monaghan, where 4 per cent of people charged with driving without a licence were convicted. The national conviction rate was 19 per cent for all driving without a licence cases finalised in the Irish courts from the start of 2016 to last September (2019).

In some District Court areas only one case per year of driving without a licence came before the courts; including in Achill, Trim and Navan. The number of cases before the courts in other areas is regularly in low single digits, including Belmullet, Dingle and Killorglin.

"Of all the analysis we completed over the years, from drink-driving, to speeding and mobile phone offences, this is by far showing the worst results," said Parc spokeswoman Susan Gray.

“These are the riskiest drivers on our roads. Yet these stats are showing up that only 19 per cent of those summoned to court are being convicted nationally.”

‘A broken system’

She said the fact the Court Service was unable to offer a breakdown as to why so many cases did not result in conviction was proof of “a broken system”.

Security sources said cases brought before the courts may be struck out at the request of gardaí or because gardaí do not turn up in court, both for unspecified reasons. However, the same sources said a person caught driving without a licence may be later able to produce a licence or to produce it in court, resulting the cases being struck out.

The Courts Service did not offer comment nor did the Garda or department. The Road Safety Authority said it noted the figures but "cannot provide an informed comment as full details on why conviction statistics were or were not successful are not provided".

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times