Tuesday 12 December 2017

New Garda powers see four banned drivers jailed since June


A major Garda clampdown on banned drivers is in force
A major Garda clampdown on banned drivers is in force

Four motorists - one with more than 260 convictions - have been jailed since June as gardai use new powers to arrest people caught driving while banned.

The convictions come as part of a Garda crackdown on disqualified drivers.

New figures show that 117 drivers have been charged.

Of these, 87 were arrested on the roadside for the specific offence of driving while disqualified, while another 30 were arrested on other charges, including drink-driving, and were later found to be banned.

The individual with 260 convictions was previously prosecuted for a range of offences including possession of drugs, assault and dangerous driving.

Until June, gardai did not have powers to arrest a disqualified driver stopped on the roadside. They had to be summonsed to court or charged at a later date.

However, the new powers allow gardai to arrest these high-risk motorists on the spot, charge them in the nearest station and take them to the earliest possible court sitting.

Offenders face a fine of up to €5,000 and/or six months imprisonment on conviction.

Chief Superintendent Mark Curran, from the Garda National Traffic Bureau, said one member of the Dublin Traffic Corps had arrested two disqualified drivers on one day.

"In many cases, when intercepted, other offences have been detected - such as no insurance or intoxicated driving," he said.


"It is totally unacceptable that drivers who have lost their licence, either through the accumulation of penalty points or in court, continue to drive. We're arresting three people a day.

"It's a very serious offence. The message to anybody who's disqualified is do not drive," he added.

Around 25,000 motorists are disqualified, but many continue to breach their ban. The figures show that 117 have been charged with driving while disqualified since June 22 last. A total of 87 motorists were stopped on the roadside and charged while another 30 were stopped for separate offences - including unauthorised taking of a vehicle, drink driving, no NCT or providing a false name and address.

Seven have been convicted and four have been jailed.

Penalties range from a €350 fine, an additional period of disqualification ranging from two to 11 years, and prison sentences between three and four months.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the new powers have helped keep the roads safer and would ultimately save lives.

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