Tuesday 20 August 2019

Disqualified drivers to be named and shamed from next year, warn RSA

RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock
RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock

Road safety chiefs' plans to name and shame disqualified drivers is set to begin early next year.

Motorists are being warned those who have been proven in court to have broken the law and subsequently taken off the road can expect to see their details published.

The move comes amid concern over conviction rates for drink-driving.

Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), said the plans for printing the names of disqualified drivers would act as a deterrent.

"We want to see a societal change, a cultural change in people's attitudes," she said.

"It is very unacceptable now to drink and drive but there still seems to be a societal acceptability to drive when you have been disqualified."

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications was told it is hoped the disqualified drivers list could be published from early next year.

The hearing also heard from Garda Deputy Commissioner John Twomey who revealed that last year 7,519 drivers were stopped and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

More than 2,100 were over the legal limit and were served with fixed penalty notices.

The Deputy Commissioner said there were 4,123 drink-driving cases completed in the courts and 3,488 drivers were convicted in 2014.

Other figures released to the committee showed that from June 22 this year, when new road traffic laws came into effect, to the end of October, gardai have used tougher powers of arrest to detain 456 disqualified drivers who were stopped while behind the wheel.

Elsewhere, the RSA said this year is on course to be a new record for safety in terms of the number of people who have been killed in accidents, with 144 deaths.

The authority said it has set a target of reducing the annual road death toll to 124 by 2020.

The committee meeting was being held after criticism of a claimed 40% conviction rate for drink-driving cases in the district court system.

The Courts Service dismissed the analysis and released further data that put the figure between 85-88%.

District Court President Judge Rosemary Horgan warned about inaccurate and unbalanced media reports following the release of statistics on conviction rates.

Tommy Broughan, the TD who sought the figures from government in the first instance, defended his original analysis, insisting it was based on the the data initially released and after a prolonged wait.

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