Over 80% of banned drivers fail to surrender licence

Data shows that more than 9,400 drivers disqualified last year after court hearing

It is an offence not to surrender a licence to the Road Safety Authority on disqualification, punishable by a fine of up to €5,000. File photograph: Getty Images

It is an offence not to surrender a licence to the Road Safety Authority on disqualification, punishable by a fine of up to €5,000. File photograph: Getty Images

 

The vast majority of drivers banned from the roads last year did not surrender their licence, despite it being an offence punishable by a fine of up to €5,000.

Latest figures show 9,449 drivers were disqualified from driving last year after a court hearing. A further 1,271 motorists were ordered off the roads during the same period after notching up the maximum penalty points.

Of the total 10,720 disqualifications, 1,824 licences – or 17 per cent – were surrendered.

It is an offence not to surrender a licence to the Road Safety Authority on disqualification, punishable by a fine of up to €5,000. It is also an offence to drive while disqualified.

Disqualified drivers are usually required to hand over their licence on the day of a court hearing, or have between five and 10 days to surrender it for endorsement, depending on the circumstances of their ban.

Sinn Féin transport spokeswoman Imelda Munster, who obtained the figures after a parliamentary question to Minister for Transport Shane Ross, said the statistics reveal an issue with enforcement. “Like everything else, it comes down to a lack of manpower and resources.”

Mr Ross said current legislation states the timeframes for handing back a licence. “Enforcement of the legislation is a matter for An Garda Síochána, ” he added.

“While a licence should be returned to the National Driver Licence Service, the failure to do so by individuals following court convictions is a matter for gardaí,” said a spokeswoman for the Road Safety Authority.

A Garda spokesman said he could not comment on the number of drivers with court convictions because the Department of Transport “maintains data in respect of driving licences”.

He added there were “legal difficulties” with legislation dealing with penalty points offenders handing over their licence, but changes to the laws were being implemented.

The spokesman said the force believes the figures for disqualification refer to cases rather than drivers, suggesting one driver could be responsible for multiple disqualifications in some cases.