System covers a total of 42 offences
PENALTY points were first introduced in the Road Traffic Act 2002 and initally covered 69 offences.
Points remain on the licence record for three years, and drivers who get 12 points at any time within the three years are disqualified for at least six months.
There are now 42 offences that attract points, with just 10 involving a mandatory court appearance -- the rest can be dealt with at the roadside.
Drivers who challenge the points face having them doubled in court, and increased fines.
In the case of mandatory court appearances, evidence is heard and, if a judge finds the driver is guilty, a conviction is recorded, fines imposed and penalty points are supposed to be applied to the driver's licence.
Motorists are legally required to produce their licence in court, and the court is required to record if it has been produced.
However, there is no requirement to record the details on the licence.
This is about to change.
The Road Traffic Bill 2009, currently going through the Dail, includes a specific section stating the licence must be delivered to the "registrar, clerk or other principal officer of the court".
A copy of the licence must also be produced "which the court shall require and retain for the purposes of establishing and recording the driver licence or learner permit details to which it relates".
This means there will be a legal requirement on the court to record the driver number and pass the information to the Road Safety Authority so the points can be applied.