Road traffic bill will close penalty points loophole

Road traffic bill will close penalty points loophole

New road traffic legislation will close a so-called loophole allowing some motorists to avoid a six-month driving ban.

The Road Traffic Bill 2023 aims to provide for penalty point reform, mandatory drug testing at the scene of serious collisions and safer speed limits.

Among its provisions will be amendments to section 2.8 of the Road Traffic Act 2002 to prevent motorists avoiding penalty points which would disqualify them from driving for six months by instead serving shorter, ancillary disqualifications.

The issue was recently highlighted by The Irish Times, which gave examples of cases where lawyers successfully applied on behalf of their clients for a short ancillary disqualification order, for example for a single day, to avoid the imposition of penalty points.

The bill will also address another “anomaly” concerning gardaí requiring people to wait while the drug test result is processed following the collection of a sample.

Other provisions will ensure that drivers who pay fixed charges for multiple offences committed at the same time will receive two sets of penalty points, which will be the highest or joint highest for the offences committed.

Additionally, in the case where a driver is convicted in court of penalty point offences committed at the same time, all penalty points for all offences will be applied onto the driver’s licence.

The bill will also require An Garda Síochána to test for drugs at the scene of serious collisions, in line with an existing requirement to breath test for alcohol, and include amendments to existing default speed limit legislation to give legislative effect to the key recommendations of the speed limit review published in September.

Transport minister Eamon Ryan said: “Road safety is a priority for me. Tragically, we have seen an increase in the number of deaths in three out of the last four years.

“To turn this terrible trend around, we will need a variety of responses, including the implementation and enforcement of robust legislation that closes anomalies and helps ensure that our roads are as safe as they can be.

“The Road Traffic Bill 2023 will implement appropriate measures to ensure that more families don’t suffer the pain of losing a loved one on our roads, particularly because of excessive speed and irresponsible behaviours. Government approval today puts us on the path to passing this important legislation in early 2024 as a matter of urgency.”’

Jack Chambers, minister of state with special responsibility for road safety, added: “There has been a terrible increase in deaths on our roads this year. Introducing much needed legislative reforms on penalty points, mandatory drug testing and speed limits will provide a robust response to this by targeting some of the most dangerous behaviours.

“Too many families will have an empty seat this year at Christmas, we must utilise the tools at our disposal to ensure we do not see a repeat of this in 2024.”

Share icon
Share this article: