Almost every fourth disqualified driver escapes the warning despite a driving ban imposed by a court.
Figures released by the Department of Transportation show that since 2017, authorities have failed to enforce the disqualification of over 12,200 motorists because their identities cannot be checked against records in the Department’s National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF).
The figures show that the annual proportion of cases in which court decisions cannot be enforced has remained constant between 22 and 25 percent over the past six years.
From January 2017 to mid-November this year, of 50,841 drivers banned from driving by courts, a total of 12,208 banned drivers did not have their driving ban confirmed on their license – a non-enforcement rate of 24 percent.
Minister of State at the Department for Transport Hildegarde Naughton pointed out that motorists who are prosecuted for traffic offenses have a legal obligation to take their driving license to court.
Responding to a parliamentary question from Socialist Deputy Leader Catherine Murphy, Ms Naughton said that over 75 per cent of court-ordered driving bans can be matched automatically, or as a result of manual matching performed by the National Driving License Service (NDLS), which is monitored by the Traffic Safety Authority.
Ms Naughton said the 25 per cent of the remaining records are associated with “shell” driver records, where details cannot be associated with any license or learner permit holder in the NVDF.
“This could be due to the driver never having an Irish driving license or the driver holding a foreign driving licence,” Ms Naughton said.
She noted that the numbers would represent some motorists who have been disqualified multiple times.
The Minister confirmed that the manual postal process for sending details of disqualification court orders to the NDLS had recently been switched to automatic sending of information.
This year Ms Naughton said that so far 1,680 grenade records have been set as the result of 7,105 driving bans.
She told Ms Murphy there were no plans for a further phase of the project to automate records of disqualified drivers where the names of offending motorists could not be matched against the NVDF.
But the Socialist co-leader said the scale of the problem of disqualified drivers evading driving bans was worrying.
Noting that today is World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Ms Murphy said it was also worrying that the Department for Transport appeared to have no further plans to address the problem.
“The whole point of imposing sanctions is to improve driver behavior to actually make our roads safer. If those sanctions can’t be imposed, you have a system that isn’t working,” Ms Murphy said.
While the Kildare North TD acknowledged that foreign license holders were responsible for some of the numbers, Ms Murphy said she didn’t think they explained the full picture.
“People are only allowed to drive in Ireland on a non-Irish driving license for a limited period (one year) before they have to exchange it for an Irish one,” she noted.
Ms Murphy also called for increased prosecution of people who fail to bring a driver’s license to court as required by law.
“There may be the odd real case of people forgetting their driver’s license, but the numbers show that it’s clear there are drivers who know how to bypass the system,” she added.
Ms Murphy said the Government should look at how the issue has been handled in other jurisdictions as the consistent figure of around 25 per cent of motorists escaping driving bans should not be tolerated.
Road safety activists have repeatedly expressed concern that the authorities’ inability to validate the licenses of all disqualified drivers is hampering enforcement of road safety measures.
Such a lack of information means that in many cases, gardaí at road checkpoints do not have accurate data on the driver’s license status of motorists suspected of traffic offences.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/almost-one-in-four-disqualified-motorists-escape-being-put-off-the-roads-42158872.html Almost one in four disqualified drivers escapes being sent off