New database to link motorists’ driving licences to vehicles
Funding for system to deal with penalty point avoidance to be provided in October budget
Move is aimed at motorists who do not have their licences with them when before the courts for offences. Photograph: Getty Images
A new database to match motorists’ driving licences with vehicle registrations is to be prepared by Government.
The move is aimed at clamping down on the number of motorists who avoid penalty points through the simple expediency of not having their licences with them when before the courts for offences which include speeding and driving while using a mobile phone.
Speaking at the media launch of Road Safety week which begins next Monday, Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said he and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald were jointly planning the database, funding for which would be provided in the budget.
Mr Donohoe was reacting to figures which showed that in the 14 months to March of this year some 20,000 motorists convicted of driving offences successfully avoided penalty points, by not having their driving licences with them in court.
Subsequently, in the first prosecutions of their kind in Ireland, 21 motorists were brought before Dublin District Court in September for allegedly failing to produce a driving licence while in court. The cases were adjourned to November pending clarification of “a legal point”, by judge Marie Keane.
Mr Donohoe said he wanted to emphasise that 79 percent of penalty point prosecutions “do end up in the successful application of penalty points”. But he added that the number of people who go to court for very serious offences or a series of offences without having penalty points imposed “continues to be unacceptable”.
He said he and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald were working on “an independent and new database that will integrate the details of somebody’s driving licence and their vehicle to deal with this matter once and for all.
That work is under way and we are going to deal with that in the context of the budget that is now approaching, he said.
Separately the DPP is to appeal a High Court decision that drink-driving suspects who were breathalysed at Garda stations should have been given the results in Irish as well as English. Mr Donohoe last week signed an order removing the apparent loophole, but road safety commentators have expressed concern about earlier cases and the possibility of motorists seeking to have their cases reopened on the basis of the High Court decision.
The DPP has written to the Garda stating the intention to appeal the High Court decision to the Supreme Court.
Road Safety Week this year concentrates on tyre and child safety with warnings to motorists of the danger in buying part-worn tyres. Chief executive of the Road safety Authority Moyagh Murdock said having proper tyres was “a matter of life and death”.
She said the surface area of the tyres touching the road was all a driver had to rely on when braking. “The brakes will stop the wheel, but the tyres stop the car,” she said.