20,000 use loophole to dodge penalty points
Up to 350 convicted motorists a week are using a legal loophole to try to dodge getting penalty points on their driving licence.
Drivers convicted of motoring offences can avoid having penalty points attached to their record by claiming in court they don't have their driving licence with them.
Without the licence number being provided in court, it is extremely difficult for the system to apply the points.
The loophole has been availed of by 20,000 motorists to seek to evade penalty points in just 15 months.
That's 1,300 drivers a month who are prosecuted for penalty points offences but who may not have them applied.
Not having your licence in court is an offence punishable by fines of up to €2,000 or three months in prison. But gardaí have not actively prosecuted the offence - until now.
A new Garda clampdown will target motorists who try to dodge penalty points in this manner, the Irish Independent has learned.
Gardaí will intercept convicted motorists in courthouses and initiate fresh prosecutions.
Garda Headquarters is directing officers to pay particular attention to repeat offenders and to liaise with court clerks as part of the operation.
Seven courthouses will be targeted initially before the operation is rolled out nationwide.
The new data reveals seven out of 10 motorists convicted of penalty point offences didn't produce their licences in court.
The counties where the problem is proportionately most widespread are Limerick and Leitrim, where over 90pc of convicted motorists failed to produce their licences. Just under 90pc of convicted motorists failed to produce their licences in Kerry, Kilkenny and Sligo.