96pc of drivers convicted in court get no penalty points
THOUSANDS of motorists are not getting penalty points for traffic offences because the Government has still not closed a legal loophole.
Drivers convicted of some of the most serious offences are not getting the points because court clerks have no power to demand their licence details.
In February last year, the Irish Independent revealed that just 731 motorists had points applied to their licence, despite the courts recording 18,387 convictions.
This has since risen to 25,968 drivers getting convictions, but just 1,100 have had points applied -- 4.2pc.
Points are not being applied because defendants are not bringing their licences to court so their convictions can be recorded.
Yesterday the Department of Transport said new regulations requiring defendants to furnish details of their licences to the clerks will be enacted next month, but computer issues needed to be addressed.
It said the changes "may" have implications for computer systems operated by gardai, the Courts Service and the National Vehicle Driver File, where penalty points are recorded. But it would not say why these issues had only arisen now.
Court clerks have no legal powers to demand that licences be produced. Penalty points can have a major bearing on drivers' insurance premiums.
The legal changes are contained in Section 63 of the 2010 Road Traffic Act, which was signed into law last August. The provisions were at "consultation stage" and the loophole would be closed "as soon as possible", most likely in June, a spokesman added.
Meanwhile, gardai have recorded a 42pc increase in the number of people convicted of the 10 most serious penalty point offences in the last 14 months.
Convictions included driving dangerously defective vehicles, having no insurance, failing to have a National Car Test (NCT) and careless driving -- all five-point offences.
However, just one in every 25 is getting the penalty points.
The figures show:
- The biggest increase is for driving a vehicle without a valid NCT. Convictions have risen from 198 to 2,810. Just 200 drivers had the points applied to their licences.
- Convictions for using a vehicle without a certificate of roadworthiness are up from 38 to 421. Just 41 got the points.
- Convictions for having no insurance were up from 13,220 to 16,736. Just 634 got points.
- Convictions for driving a dangerously defective vehicle rose from two to 49. Just six motorists had points applied.
The AA's Conor Faughnan said: "People who get two points for speeding or for momentary lapses of concentration will feel very annoyed that people are getting away with this."
A spokesman for Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the loophole would be closed in June.