The penalty points system for driving offences was introduced in Ireland on 31 October 2002. The system was extended to insurance, seat belt wearing and careless driving offences in 2003 and 2004. Various offences have been added to the system since.
If you hold a driving licence in Kerry, there’s a good chance you have penalty points; up to April this year, over 14,600 drivers in Kerry had penalty points.
Remind us of the background to penalty points.
A penalty point is a formal reprimand by the gardaí endorsed on your driving licence that shows you are guilty of a driving offence. Penalty point offences are recorded on your driving licence record if you are convicted of a driving offence that attracts penalty points, or if you are served with a fixed charge notice for an alleged offence that attracts penalty points and you opt to pay the fine rather than having to go to court.
Any driver gathering 12 penalty points within a three-year period will be automatically disqualified from driving for six months.
A lower threshold of seven penalty points applies to any driver driving under a learner permit, and subsequently during the first two years while they drive under their first driving licence.
The Road Safety Authority manages the penalty points system. What information does it hold on Kerry drivers?
The RSA has information on the total number of points and the offences for which the points were given. Since 2002, 52,695 penalty points have been given to over 14,600 drivers with Kerry addresses.
The RSA breaks down the info by the number of drivers with one, two, three points and so on, all the way to 12. 12 is the magic number, and not in a good way here. Of the over 14,600 people with penalty points in Kerry, 10,500 have 3 points.
So over 70% of drivers with penalty points have exactly 3 points? What does this show?
Offences carrying 3 penalty points
- Using vehicle (car) without valid test certificate (NCT)
- Parking a vehicle in a dangerous position
- Failure to drive on the left-hand side of the road
- Dangerous overtaking
- Failure to stop a vehicle before stop sign/stop line
- Failure to yield right of way at a yield sign/yield line
- Failure to leave appropriate distance between you and the vehicle in front
- Holding a mobile phone while driving
Some of these can be increased to 5 penalty points if the person is convicted in court.
As of April, how many Kerry drivers were getting close to the 12-point mark?
|Points||Drivers on this total||Total Points|
|Drivers with points||Total Points|
Which offences were Kerry drivers most frequently suspected – or found guilty – of?
There were fixed charge notices issued for dozens of offences, but here are some of the common offences.
- Careless Driving contrary to section 52(1) – 94
- Driving without reasonable consideration – 407
- Cross continuous white line/broken white line – 141
- Learner driver unaccompanied by a qualified driver – 311
- Driving a vehicle while holding a mobile phone – 2,927
- Speeding – 11,405 fixed charge notices issued
I understand there were a number of penalty points issued for offences around traffic lights and stop signs?
- Fail to obey traffic lights – 123 notices
- Fail to stop before stop sign/stop line – 27
- Also, no NCT – 377
- No Insurance – 326
- Numerous relating to seat belts and restraints – hundreds in total
- Drink driving – dozens – many have been dealt with in court, so could be automatic disqualification
What about those with foreign driving licences?
The Road Safety Authority stats show that penalty points are applied to those with licences from outside of Ireland. Up to April, 48,400 drivers who hold foreign licences were given penalty points. There was no further information on what happens in this instance.
The RSA said: Where a driver is convicted in court of a penalty point offence or makes a payment on a fixed charge notice the details of the penalty points to be allocated to the driver record are sent to the Driver Vehicle Computer Service Division in the Department of Transport. Where the details given, i.e. name, address and date of birth cannot be matched with a Driver Number then a new driver record is created. The details of the offence and penalty points are then recorded on these holding numbers and the driver record commences with the number 88. These holding numbers were set up to record penalty points where the driver did not hold an Irish Driving Licence. The details of the foreign licence is associated with this 88 driver record and any other offences relating to the driver are associated with this 88 driver record. The driver is treated in like manner as all other licence holders and will be disqualified on the accumulation of 12 penalty points for a period of 6 months. The driver must surrender his foreign licence to the National Driving Licence Service for the duration of the disqualification.
A full list of the information used here can be found on the Road Safety Authority's website.
Eamonn Hickson - August 2021