New offences added to penalty scheme


Twenty more driving offences will be added to the penalty points scheme in April, according to the Department of Transport.

At present, penalty points are applicable to just five out of a proposed total of 69 driver offences since the scheme was introduced in the Republic in 2002.

These are: breaking the speed limit; non-wearing of seat-belts by drivers; non-wearing of seat-belts by passengers under 17; careless driving; and driving without insurance.

In April a further 20 "driver behaviour" offences will be added.

According to a Department of Transport spokeswoman they will include:

dangerous overtaking; offences on the motorway and hard shoulder; blocking junctions; failure to obey traffic lights; non-adherence of traffic wardens; failure to obey stop-and-yield signs: and crossing the centre white lines on roads.

"The focus is on driver behaviour and introducing penalty points for moving traffic offences," she added.

The decision to go ahead with a further 20 offences was made when Minister for Transport Martin Cullen met senior gardaí and representatives from the Department of Justice recently.

"The Department of Justice and the gardaí have indicated that they are ready from April to implement the 20 new driving offences to the scheme," said a Department of Transport spokesman.

Meanwhile, legislation banning the use of mobile phones while driving, including text-messaging, is being drafted by the Department of Transport in conjunction with the Attorney General.

"The main issue still being raised is what constitutes using a phone and whether hands-free kits and car kits should be included," said the department spokesman.