Foreign drivers have racked up almost 90,000 penalty points in the past three years, but they have got off scot-free because of loopholes in our laws.
The number of penalty points breached the 30,000-mark last year, up 23% on 2010.
Figures provided by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar show that 87,365 penalty points have been “unassigned” to non-Irish licence holders since 2009.
* 29,306 penalty points in 2009.
* 24,303 in 2010.
* 30,765 in 2011.
* 2,991 in the first seven weeks of 2012.
Mr Varadkar said measures were being taken to address the long-running problem.
He said section 56 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 had amended the definition of a driving licence to include a foreign driving licence. This section was commenced on June 1, 2011.
He said the next stage would be to amend parts three and five of the act, but did not say when this would happen.
Mr Varadkar said these sections would provide a legal mechanism to the department’s national vehicle and driver file to endorse penalty points on drivers holding foreign licences.
Supplying figures to Labour TD Tommy Broughan, the minister said these sections would also provide a legal basis to amalgamate new penalty point entries with pre-existing ones. “Following the commencement of the sections, where a foreign licence holder accumulates 12 points, they will be treated in the same manner as a holder of an Irish licence and will be disqualified from driving in this country for six months and if detected driving while so disqualified, can be prosecuted for doing so,” said Mr Varadkar.
Responding, Mr Broughan said: “There has been a huge gap in the system for a long time. This has meant people could break the traffic laws with impunity. There is still a very significant number of drivers who can just disregard penalty points.” He said there had been several fatal car crashes involving foreign drivers.
Meanwhile, other figures show that north and west Dublin, along with Cork City, have the worst records in terms of motorists using handheld mobile phones while driving.
More than 33,000 penalty-point notices were issued to motorists in 2011.
The worst offenders were in Dublin West (3,185), Dublin North (2,266), and Cork City (2,045).
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