Anomalies persist in the new NDLS system
Last week I received in the post my all-new electronic driving licence, issued by the National Driving Licence Service.
The new licence is a plastic card, which first saw the light of day in January 2014. A similar style card is now the norm across all member states of the European Union.
My grandfather bought a car sometime at the beginning of the 20th century, stepped into it in Thurles and drove straight to Donegal without ever having been in a car before. My Dad never had to do a driving test in order to drive.
The driving test was introduced in March 1964. When it was first set up there was only one place in the whole country from where you could do the test and that was in Parkgate Street in Dublin's north side.
There are many twists and turns to the history of the Irish driving licence. In 1979 there was such a backlog to testing the then government in its wisdom offered an amnesty to anyone who was on their second provisional driving licence. Between 25,000 and 50,000 people, who had failed the test, were granted a full licence. Many of them are still driving about on our roads. It could only happen in Ireland.
The NDLS began its life in October 2013. Before that date driving licences were issued by local authorities throughout the country.
Because of the Brexit conundrum the NDLS is busy at present as many holders of UK licences are exchanging their licences for the Irish equivalent. During all of 2018 the NDLS exchanged 6,000 UK licences for Irish licences. So far this year they have exchanged 12,000 UK licences.
The day I called to the Leopardstown NDLS centre I met a young woman who told me she would be queueing for four hours. That's not good enough.
Like its antecedents there seems to be a number of anomalies and intricacies about the NDLS licence.
I had always understood that in order to obtain the new licence one had to be in possession of a Public Services Card. Not true. You can obtain the licence without a PSC.
If you have a driving licence from a member state of the European Union are you obliged to transfer it for an Irish driving licence if you are driving a vehicle in Ireland?
It's generally held that a person can drive in Ireland on a licence from another EU country for one year before exchanging it for the new Irish licence.
But if one reads the small print of the EU regulation it would seem that the EU licence in whatever country it is issued is valid in all other EU countries without a time limit restriction.
A word of advice: if you require a doctor's certificate to obtain a licence, remember that you must apply for the licence within one month of your doctor signing off on your medical report.
Licences for people over 70 are now free of charge. Some time ago I heard economist Colm McCarthy on the Marian Finucane Show ridiculing the idea that it was free for over 70s. He had a point. Oops, that sort of thinking does not go down well in the times we are living.
And the super new NDLS form is already out of date. When asking for gender it only gives two options.
With all its peccadillos I'm the proud possessor of the new NDLS plastic card, which allows me drive a car, a bus and a motorbike.