Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister of State at the Department of Transport (Deputy Noel Ahern): Penalty points were first applied in October 2002 to the offence of speeding and have since been rolled out in stages between then and September 2006 in respect of a total of 36 offences. The focus of the roll-out of the penalty points system to date has been on road safety critical offences that relate primarily to the behaviour of drivers. These include the offence of speeding, driving without insurance, non-wearing of safety belt, careless driving, holding a mobile phone while driving and a range of moving offences.
The remaining scheduled offences to which the penalty point system may be applied relate primarily to offences relating to vehicles and their use, lighting of vehicles and the licensing of drivers. Detection of breaches of these offences continue to be enforced by the Gardaí by means of summons to court.
The progressive extension of the penalty point system will continue to be pursued. There is an Action in the Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012 to expand the range of road safety related offences covered by way of penalty points and administrative fines.
My Department is the lead agency on this Action (which has a completion date of end of Quarter 1 2009) with support from Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Garda Síochána, Courts Service and RSA. Discussions are held with the support agencies regarding the timing of each scheduled roll-out of new offences to ensure that the relevant interfaces are in place between the Garda Síochána and the Court Services IT systems and the National Driving File. The relevant support systems must be put in place to support the extension of the penalty points system, and where applicable, the fixed charge system.
Discussions are not concluded on the operation and extension of the penalty point and fixed charge systems. These discussions will continue over the coming months, with the target date of end Quarter 1 2009 in mind, but it would premature to speculate as to how many of the remaining scheduled offences will be prioritised for penalty points at that time.
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