People recklessly speeding on roads could be banned from driving entirely, even if they have committed only one offence under potential laws designed to cut road deaths.
Transport Minister Shane Ross confirmed he is considering the measure as part of a new graded penalty points system he wants to introduce which would see drivers given harsher penalty point fines for every 10km faster they are driving.
Under existing rules, drivers who break the speed limit are given standard penalty point fines for committing the illegal act as they are putting themselves and other people at risk.
However, Mr Ross said that was not good enough, and he wants to see a new graded system introduced that could potentially see offenders disqualified from driving for a first speeding offence.
“I’m looking at that and I haven’t ruled it out. If people commit really serious offences and drive really dangerously and recklessly at a speed that is totally and utterly irresponsible and puts other people’s lives at risk, I wonder if it’s appropriate to give them a couple of penalty points and say ‘come back for more tomorrow’,” he told RTÉ Radio’s News at One.
“I do think the system now is too lenient. As we saw recently, the biggest killers on the road are alcohol and speed, and what I want to do is have a similar system to the breathalyser system where you get a larger punishment the higher up you are. I think offenders should be getting far more points and going close to disqualification far more quickly which is, therefore, getting them off the roads and saving lives.
“This is part of a serious campaign to introduce legislation to save lives. Speed is a big killer,” said Mr Ross, adding he wants to give judges narrower options for speeding offence rulings as some are using the “poor box” which sends out “the wrong message”.
Fianna Fáil communications spokesperson Timmy Dooley said he supports “the principle of graded penalties in general” but said drivers need to believe it will be enforced for it to prove effective.
A total of 158 people died in road incidents last year.
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