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Learners face court for being out alone

MORE than 900 learner drivers are facing court after being caught either driving alone or without displaying 'L' plates.

Some 503 drivers have been caught driving without a qualified driver so far this year, new figures reveal. Another 426 are being prosecuted for not displaying 'L' plates.

But official garda figures show that just two have been convicted -- one for each offence.

In 2010, 3,900 learner drivers were prosecuted for driving alone. Of those, 951 were convicted. The same year, 3,478 were prosecuted for not displaying 'L' plates. Of these, just 841 were convicted.

But the low rate of convictions does not mean these drivers are escaping punishment.

"If you bring someone before the courts, the charges could be added to another offence, such as speeding or dangerous driving," a garda spokesman said. "There could be five summonses, and the judge could convict on the most serious charge and take the others into consideration."

Since July 2008, learners must be accompanied by a person with a full licence for two years. If caught driving alone, fines of up to €1,000 can be imposed, and/or three months in jail. Similar penalties apply to motorists caught without 'L' plates.

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