Are you getting the points?

carYou might have seen news reports last week of people “avoiding” penalty points on their driving licences by not producing their driving licence in court. This is indeed a “loophole” in the law but, to be fair to most people concerned, they are unlikely to have known they were exploiting it.

All District Court summons for penalty point offences include a notice warning that a driving licence must be produced in court. In fact, it is a criminal offence not to do so, and that is also stated on summonses, but most people probably miss this small print and few produce their licence. Indeed, there has been no real enforcement of this offence, despite the reported failure to produce rate being over 90% in some counties (including Limerick).

The loophole is now being closed, according to media reports. A new law is not being introduced, rather a targeted Garda operation is being undertaken around the country to prosecute drivers who attend court for road traffic cases but don’t bring their licence with them.

The lesson?

  • Bring your driving licence and a copy of it to court. Get there before court starts and give the copy to your solicitor or the court clerk. You may not welcome penalty points on your licence, but the alternative are fines of up to €2,000 and jail for repeat offenders.
  • Penalty points have increased recently. If you are convicted of speeding, careless driving or not having an NCT certificate in court, for example, you will get 5 penalty points.
  • 12 penalty points in a 3 years period means an automatic disqualification from driving for 6 months. The threshold is lower for learner and novice drivers.

For many, a driving licence is a key to employment and the daily services we all require for ourselves and our families. Follow the rules of the road and drive carefully. But if you need advice or representation to protect your ability to drive, contact us.

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