Scaled-down penalty points system given the green light
THE long-delayed penalty points system for rogue motorists will finally be introduced at the end of this month, writes Treacy Hogan.
The system officially kicks in from Friday, October 31, starting with just speeding offences, Transport Minister Seamus Brennan announced yesterday.
From that date any motorist stopped by the gardai for speeding will automatically qualify for two penalty points on their driving licence, in addition to the ?65 on-the-spot fine. Last year 345,000 motorists were fined for speeding.
Under the new system a motorist who accumulates 12 penalty points will be automatically disqualified from driving for six months.
The announcement follows a series of meetings between the minister and senior gardai, the Minister for Justice and the National Safety Council.
Later next year, when the system is fully computerised, a further 61 offences which qualify for penalty points will be added.
Mr Brennan predicted that the system will have a major impact in changing driver behaviour and in reducing death and serious injury on our roads.
The introduction of penalty points system was dogged by delays - a bitter wrangle between the Department of Finance and the Department of Justice delayed the projects for many months.
Despite Government approval of funding for the system the Department of Finance stubbornly refused to give the ?11m needed to bankroll a computer system vital to getting the scheme up and running, offering only ?1m.
However, instead of waiting until the end of next year when the computer system will be introduced, the minister decided to start up the system on an interim 'paper' basis for speeding offences.
Gardai who stop speeding motorists will record their details on paper - this will be manually transposed onto a computer file and the driver notified that they have incurred the points.
The new forms are currently being printed and a firm will shortly be selected to key in the paper records onto a computer.
But, significantly, it will be the end of next year before the points system is fully operational for a range of over 60 offences including: Dangerous overtaking (2 points); Driving with children not wearing seat belts in the rear of a car (2 points); Driving on a provisional licence unaccompanied (1 points); Penalty points incurred are held on record for three years from the date they are imposed.