Angry gardai 'helpless' to halt drivers with 12 points
Allison Bray HIGH-RISK drivers who have racked up a whopping 12 penalty points are still going behind the wheel due to a litany of loopholes.
The astonishing revelation was made to Fine Gael's Transport spokeswoman, Olivia Mitchell, yesterday after she received a tip-off from frustrated gardai.
A series of loopholes in the penalty points system has left gardai bewildered by the legislation and unsure how to confiscate a licence from a driver who should be disqualified, she said.
"Gardai who contacted me believe there may be many drivers who have accumulated 12 penalty points that are still driving when they should have been disqualified and surrendered their licence," she said.
"Some of these drivers are not even aware they have accumulated 12 penalty points.
"Other drivers have simply failed to hand over the licence when requested by their local authority. Consequently, they have an apparently clean licence when stopped by a garda."
The lack of clarity in the controversial points system as well as lack of chain of command and procedural instructions for gardai meant errant drivers could continue to drive without surrendering their licences.
"The extent of the problem is unknown but it appears to be considerable, given the number of gardai who have contacted my office expressing concern," she said.
The loopholes include:
* Gardai on the roads do not have access to a driver's penalty points on their new hand-held computer systems. Moreover, once information on a driver's record has been sent to the National Driver File, it is erased from garda records.
* Local authorities are supposed to notify a driver as soon as he or she accumulates 12 penalty points. But it is unclear how often this is actually happening and there is no protocol for gardai to follow to deal with drivers who don't hand over their licences.
* There does not appear to be any law penalising drivers for not handing over their licences nor any penalties.
"There are too many steps in the process, too many loopholes and pitfalls and too much room for error," Ms Mitchell said.
She added that her party colleagues intended to table amendments to the penalty points system next week which they hoped the Government would urgently adopt to close up the loopholes in the system.