Only a fifth of drink-drivers’ licences recorded in two years

Licences of convicted drivers are recorded in court to ensure penalty points are endorsed

Only 20 per cent of drink-driving convictions resulted in licences being recorded in District Courts in 2015 and 2016, new figures show.

It is essential that licences are recorded in court to ensure penalty points are endorsed on them, or in the case of disqualification to ensure it is enforceable.

The Courts Service database is not linked to the National Vehicle Driver file, and photocopies of a driver’s licence are required so that endorsements can be added.

In Louth, licences were recorded in only 4 per cent of drink-driving convictions, and the figure was 6 per cent for Limerick and Kerry.


The data, supplied to Independents4Change TD Tommy Broughan by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, also shows that over the course of two years, more than 9,300 cases of drink driving were completed by district courts across the State. Overall, there were just over 5,400 drink-driving convictions.

Conviction rate

This would show a conviction rate of 58 per cent, far below the 88 per cent estimated by the Courts Service in 2015 and higher than the 40 per cent previously estimated by The Irish Times.

A quarter of the cases, almost 2,300, were struck out, 12 per cent were dismissed, and the remainder were dealt with in other ways, including being withdrawn or being taken into account with other offences.

Licences were recorded in court in almost 1,070 cases, only 20 per cent of convictions, the rate of which varied widely across the country.

In Sligo, Kildare and Meath the figure was only 8 per cent. The highest percentage of licences recorded on conviction was in Wexford, with just over 40 per cent, followed by Wicklow and Clare with 37 per cent, and Cavan and Longford with 36 per cent.

In Kilkenny, over the two-year period, 190 drink-driving cases were disposed of and there were 58 convictions, a little more than 30 per cent. The figure was 43 per cent for Leitrim and 46 per cent for Monaghan.

Highest figures

Longford had the highest figures. There, 108 cases were completed and there were 87 convictions, more than 80 per cent. The figure was 79 per cent for Kildare and 72 per cent for Cork.

The Dublin Metropolitan area had just over 2,000 drink-driving cases completed, with just over half that number convicted. In Cork, of 1,142 cases completed, there were 825 convicted, more than 70 per cent.

Separate figures supplied to Mr Broughan show, over the course of the two years, 1,930 drink-driving cases were struck out because of non-service of summons. Summonses are served by personal delivery or by registered post. Where a case is struck out because of non-service, it may be re-entered at a later date.

Responding to the rate of recording of licences, Ms Fitzgerald said new legislation, specifically requiring a presiding judge to ask a convicted driver to produce a licence to the court, would “tighten up existing procedures”.

Legislation commenced

This legislation, Section 33 of the Road Traffic Act 2016, was commenced by Minister for Transport Shane Ross late last week.

On issues with non-service of summonses, Ms Fitzgerald said gardaí had reported improvements, but challenges remained, including inaccurate address data.

Susan Gray, founder of road safety group Parc, said 98 per cent of drivers disqualified have not surrendered their licence to the Road Safety Authority.

“Parc welcomes the commencement of this law as it could be one of the most powerful pieces of legislation in reducing road fatalities and preventing catastrophic injuries,” she said.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist