Clampdown ordered on court loophole that avoids penalty points

A new garda operation is set to target drivers who avoid penalty points by failing to provide their licence in court, it has been reported.

Clampdown ordered on court loophole that avoids penalty points

A new garda operation is set to target drivers who avoid penalty points by failing to provide their licence in court, it has been reported.

More than 20,000 people failed to produce their licences between the start of last year and March - despite it being punishable by three months in prison or a €2,000.

According to the Irish Independent, the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has ordered a crackdown which will see officers intercept offenders in court houses.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of people convicted of penalty-points offences between January 2014 and March of this year avoided having the points registered.

According to the data secured from responses to parliamentary questions by Independent TD Tommy Broughan, the problem is most rampant in Limerick and Leitrim - where more than 90% of convicted motorists failed to produce their licence.

That has prompted this clampdown from Minister Fitzgerald, who said that there must be "no way out for anybody seeking to avoid getting penalty points".

The first wave of reforms will see seven courts initially targeted before the measure is rolled out across the country - with Garda HQ directing its officers to work with court clerks and its officers and to target repeat offenders.

Cork-based solicitor Frank Buttimer thinks the lack of compliance is mostly down to a lack of knowledge among drivers.

"I'd say it's not commonly known and I'd say it's not even conscious and deliberate avoidance," he said.

"I'd say it's just probably lack of knowledge on the part of people who are told on the face of their summons - as far as I can recall - that they should bring their licences to court, and who are also then obliged if they don't do that subsequently to send the licence in for the matter to be processed.

"There's probably an easier system."

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