Saturday 22 October 2016

Disqualified drivers should be electronically tagged, says senator

Shane Phelan, Public Affairs Editor

Published 23/10/2015 | 07:12

Senator Mark Daly raised concerns.
Senator Mark Daly raised concerns.

Fianna Fáil has called for the electronic tagging of disqualified motorists following revelations more than 500 drivers were already banned at the time they were convicted over collisions causing death or serious injury.

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Senator Mark Daly said judges should have the discretion to insist disqualified drivers deemed likely to re-offend be fitted with tags so gardaí can track their whereabouts.

He said this could be done in cases where defendants had a long track record of offences.

Mr Daly told the Seanad that legislation allowing for this already existed, but had never come into force.

His comments came after the Road Safety Authority revealed 521 drivers were disqualified at the time they received convictions for causing death or serious injury between January 2013 and March of this year.

“If they had been smart-tagged, those injuries and deaths could have been prevented,” Mr Daly said.

“If there was a disqualified driver driving a car, a garda with a smartphone would pick it up automatically. He would detect that the person was wearing a tag and know he was disqualified.”

He said electronic tags could also be used in the case of gangs “terrorising the community while on bail”. Laws allowing for the electronic tagging of offenders were contained in the Criminal Justice Act 2006.

However, the relevant section of the act was never commenced – brought into force – by the previous Government or the current one. It is unclear whether the Coalition plans to commence the legislation.

A new Criminal Justice Bill does contain a provision for the tagging of burglars, but it does not deal with other offences.

Electronic monitoring has been used only on a pilot basis in Ireland.

This is in relation to prisoners on temporary release and involves placing a wrist or ankle bracelet on the offender.

The offender’s consent is required and it applies only to adults.

The use of electronic monitoring is widespread around Europe, but the category of offender tagged varies from country to country.

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