herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Drivers dodge penalty points in IT loophole

THOUSANDS of motorists are escaping penalty points each year because of an outdated computer system, the Herald can reveal.

A massive 216,124 penalty points have not been awarded to drivers with a foreign licence over the past 10 years -- despite offences being committed.

This means that there is an average of over 50 incidents every day where penalty points are not being applied to a foreign licence.

Legislation has already been drafted which will fix a legal loophole that allows holders of foreign licences to avoid being hit with penalty points.

But the Herald has learned the IT system in An Garda Siochana and the Courts Service has not been updated to allow for the new measures to be rolled out. Coalition sources have revealed the loophole could be fixed "at the stroke of a pen".

A source explained: "The garda's hands are tied when it comes to imposing penalty points on foreign licence holders. They cannot do it as the legislation is not in place. It's drafted, it's ready but other factors need to be ironed out and one of them is the technology."

This means that while thousands of Irish motorists are penalised with points every year, foreign drivers who live in Ireland and commit the same offence are avoiding having points imposed.

And the botched system will continue until necessary upgrades are made to the computer systems.

A Department of Transport spokesperson said new legislation would for the first time ensure penalty points are linked to non-Irish licences.

Fianna Fail Limerick TD Willie O'Dea, who raised the matter in the Dail, described the figures as "scandalous".

He said: "It's a two-tier type of law -- one rule for Irish drivers and another for foreign drivers.

"I am looking into whether it is in breach of EU law."

hnews@herald.ie

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