Gardai express fears over capability of enforcing new speed limits if linked to weather

Tough new penalties face backlash from ministers and officers

Stock photo

Philip Ryan

Gardai have raised concerns about enforcing controversial new speeding laws being proposed by Transport Minister Shane Ross, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Mr Ross plans to introduce graduated speed limits coupled with tough new penalties for motorists caught speeding and automatic fines for not carrying a driving licence.

Reduced speed limits on motorways during adverse weather conditions are also a key element of the minister's radical overhaul of road traffic laws.

The legislation which will be brought to Cabinet this week has already sparked backlash among Ross's ministerial colleagues in Fine Gael.

And now the Sunday Independent has learned Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will raise concerns about the new laws when they are brought before Cabinet.

Central to Mr Flanagan's concerns will be a warning from gardai that some of the new laws will be difficult to enforce.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Gardai expressed fears over the capability of enforcing new speed limits if they are linked to the weather.

They said it would be near impossible to enforce speed limits linked to weather due to difficulties in determining when bad weather began and/or ended. They also raised concerns over determining the location of bad weather.

Last night, Mr Ross said gardai "fully support" his new speeding laws.

"We are more than happy to discuss the enforcement of variable speed limits on the M50 before the legislation is drafted," he said.

It is also understood enforcement of the new laws will be discussed at later date. Weather related speed limits are common in other European countries.

Under the new rules motorists driving faster than 10km/h above the speed limit would get an €80 fine and between three and five penalty points.

Motorists driving 20km/h over the speed limit would be given a €150 fine and between four and six points.

Motorists driving between 20km/h and 30km/h over the speed limit would receive a €200 fine and up to seven penalty points. Anyone driving in excess of 30km/h above the speed limits will be charged with dangerous driving.

Fine Gael ministers were furious over the proposed new laws when they were discussed at a pre-Cabinet meeting last Tuesday.

The legislation, which was due to be discussed by Fine Gael and Independent ministers, was removed from the Cabinet agenda at the last minute.

The Government's spokesperson said this was due to a busy Cabinet schedule which was dominated by Brexit related matters.

Several Fine Gael TDs and Senators raised concern about the incident at a parliamentary party meeting last week.

Clare Senator Martin Conway led the charge by calling the new laws "draconian" and insisting the Government should stay focused on the housing crisis.

The issue was also discussed at Fianna Fail's parliamentary party meeting with TDs insisting they new legislations should be blocked.

It is understood Mr Ross will face down any opposition to his plan from Fine Gael ministers at this week's Cabinet meeting.