Sunday 18 March 2018

Cross border penalty points system on the way next year

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.

A CROSS border penalty points system is expected to be implemented next year, The Argus has learned.

The system would see drivers from the north being penalised if they flout road traffic laws south of the border.

Plans to introduce the 'mutual recognition' of cross border penalty points, which would also mean that southern drivers can similarly be penalised whilst they are on roads in the north, have been on the cards for almost a decade.

Efforts to crack down on the number of motorists who have escaped penalty points for a range of offences including speeding and mobile phone use when driving were on the agenda at a recent North-South Ministerial Council Transport Committee.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar, and the north's MLA Alex Atwood and Danny Kennedy.

The Ministers from both sides of the border noted 'steering groups are continuing to take forward the work on the mutual recognition of penalty points.'

The meeting also heard that a public consultation on the proposals was launched in Northern Ireland on March 12th and is set to close on May 14th.

Both ministers gave their commitment to have both primary and secondary legislation in place by the end of 2014.

The issue of northern drivers evading penalty points has long been a problem in the border area, where the level of cross border traffic is greatest.

The launch of the Dublin to Belfast M1 in the last few years has highlighted the difficulties with traffic policing and enforcement.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport acknowledged the issue of cross-border enforcement for road traffic offences has 'proved to be a difficult one over the years.'

'Given the variety and complexity of the legal systems in different states, the development of a common approach, whether bilaterally between two states or at an EU level, has always proved extremely difficult.'

The Argus