Driving licence body looks at loophole

Review follows case where disqualified driver back on roads

The body responsible for the issuing of driving licences has said it will review its processes after the recent case of a man, who had been disqualified from driving after a series of dangerous incidents, being back on the road within months due to a gap in regulations.

The case, heard last month in Clonakilty District Court, involved a man who drove for more than 50km during which he crashed into a garda car and repeatedly failed to stop for police. His car was brought to a stop after gardaí used a stinger.

It emerged that the man was banned from driving in October 2015 under a special disqualification under Section 28 of the Road Traffic Act, and at that time the dangerous driving charges dating from the September 2014 incident were adjourned with liberty to re-enter.

However, the court heard that just eight weeks after his disqualification the man reapplied to the National Driver Licence Service , with a certificate of fitness to drive from a GP, and was given a new one-year licence.

The court heard the service was informed by the man’s solicitor of his recent disqualification, and that neither the court that oversaw the initial disqualification nor the gardaí who sought it were informed.

When the dangerous driving charges were re-entered by gardaí in the recent court hearing the man was convicted and disqualified from driving for 20 years, with the court told gardaí would raise the issues arising from it with the service.

A spokesperson for the service said there seemed to be an issue with the initial court order. “The process by which a court order is given effect is that the National Driver Licence Service is advised by the Courts Service and the driver record is updated with information about the court order,” the spokesperson said.

“The National Driver Licence Service did not receive notification concerning the court order following the disqualification in October 2015. Where a person is disqualified on a special disqualifying order, he may apply to have the licence restored by providing a medical certificate; in this instance the person’s Solicitor indicated to the National Driver Licence Service that his client was going to take this approach. He did so and had his licence restored.

“Essentially, the National Driver Licence Service did not become aware of this disqualification until a query was raised by a Garda in September 2016. At that point contact was made with the Courts Service to establish the nature of the order.”

However, the man’s solicitor, Patrick Goold, reaffirmed that he had informed the service in writing of the disqualification in January.

The service also said that there was no need to change existing legislation and that it would conduct a review of how this case was handled.

“Legislative change is not required, we will review with the Courts Service the manner in which the court order in this case was processed to ensure that they are recorded on the driving licence in a timely fashion. We will also review our own processes to ensure that there are no gaps in the system that can be exploited.”


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