MOTORISTS will only get penalty points for failing to have a valid NCT disc if they are stopped and charged by a garda, prosecuted in the courts and convicted, the AA has said.
The association said unlike penalty points for speeding, points for not having a road-worthiness certificate are not automatic and can only be handed down by a judge.
Beginning on May 1, drivers, on conviction, face new penalty points, including up to five points for not having an up-to-date NCT (National Car Test) cert and three points for driving without fixing a fault uncovered in an NCT test.
The AA’s Conor Faughnan said the new system was primarily aimed at drivers of defective and dangerousvehicles, not the majority of drivers who simply don’t have their NCT cert.
“This is not the same as the penalty points that are issued automatically for speeding. If you drive past a speed camera today you will receive a penalty pointsnotice in the post,” said Mr Faughnan.
“You will not be issued with penalty points on the spot or in the post because you do not have your NCT. This can only happen when you are charged, taken to court and successfully convicted.”
He said under the law, as it stood, drivers can be prosecuted and fined up to e1,500 for not having a valid NCT.
Mr Faughnan said he did not expect gardaí to clog up the courts with people overdue on their test. “I would suggest it’s reasonable to expect that the people who are brought to court are people who are in defective vehicles rather than the people who are not displaying a valid NCT disc because they are delayed in the process of getting hold of it.
“It would be our expectation that gardaí would be treating it with the samedegree of common sense as they treat the other provisions.” He said “in theory” anyone not displaying a valid disk was guilty of an offence, but motorists were reliant on the “common sense” of gardaí. He said: “There is garda discretion.”
He said: “So, if you have a circumstance where somebody is driving a car which is clearly defective — broken headlight or vomiting smoke out the back of it — well that’s what this clause in law is designed to cater for. No one can seriously defend the right of a motorist to drive a dangerous deathtrap on the road.”
He said even if a motorist is convicted, the judge has discretion as to how many points to impose.
The NCT switchboard continued to be bombarded yesterday and its website — www.ncts.ie — continued to crash as people tried to book in their cars.
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