Criminal with 260 convictions among those jailed as gardaí target disqualified drivers
Career criminals including one with more than 260 convictions have been jailed following a crackdown on disqualified drivers.
Four motorists have been jailed since June by gardai, after they were given new powers to arrest people caught driving while banned.
The new figures show that 117 drivers have been charged to date. Of these, 87 were arrested on the roadside for the specific offence of driving while disqualified, while another 30 were arrested on other charges including drink-driving, and later found to be banned.
One had 260 previous convictions for a range of offences including possession of drugs, assault and dangerous driving.
Until June, gardaí did not have powers to arrest a disqualified driver stopped on the roadside. They had to be summonsed to court, or charged at a later date. However, the new powers allows police to arrest these high-risk motorists on the roadside, charge them in the nearest station and take them to the earliest possible court sitting.
Offenders face a fine of up to €5,000 and/or six months imprisonment on conviction.
Chief Superintendent Mark Current from the Garda National Traffic Bureau said one member of the Dublin Traffic Corps had arrested two disqualified drivers on one day.
"In many cases, when intercepted, other offences have been detected, such as having no insurance or intoxicated driving," he said.
"It is totally unacceptable that drivers who have lost their licence either through the accumulation of penalty points or in court continue to drive. We're arresting three people a day.
"It's a very serious offence. The message to anybody who's disqualified is do not drive."
Around 25,000 motorists are currently disqualified but many continue to breach their ban. The figures show that 117 have been charged with driving while disqualified since June 22 last.
They also show:
87 motorists were stopped on the roadside and charged.
Another 30 were stopped for a separate offence including unauthorised taking of a vehicle, drink driving, no NCT or providing a false name and address.
Seven have been convicted to date. Penalties range from a €350 fine, an additional period of disqualification ranging from two to 11 years, and prison sentences between three and four months.
Of four drivers sent to prison, one had more than 260 previous convictions.
As many as 100 vehicles were impounded for having no insurance.
Separately, new figures show that 93 people have been killed on the road, down 23 on the same period of 2014.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the new powers enacted in June allowed gardaí to deal with criminal activity in a "much more immediate way", which helped keep the roads safer and would ultimately save lives.