Pointing out the points!

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport carried out a review of the current penalty point system in 2012.  On 8th December 2014, the Minister, Paschal Donoghue introduced a number of adjustments to penalty points and new penalty point offences.  From that date, 14 new penalty point offences were created, 9 offences had their existing level of points increased and 2 offences had procedural changes so that points could be applied without a court conviction.
The following new offences will now attract penalty points:

  • Failure by learner or novice drivers to display L plates or N plates respectively.
  • Learner driver driving unaccompanied by qualified person.
  • Contravention of ban on U-turns.
  • Contravention of rules for use of mini roundabouts.
  • Going beyond no entry to vehicles sign.
  • Offences relating to the size and weight of larger vehicles (four separate offences).
  • Disobeying traffic control signs.
  • Driving without a licence plate or with one that has been modified inaccurately.
  • Using a vehicle not equipped with a speed limitation device or with one which does not comply with regulatory requirements.

Certain existing offences face increased levels of penalty points after 8th December 2014 as follows;

  1. Failure to keep on left hand side of the road
  2. Driving along or across the road’s middle line
  3. Failure to comply with mandatory traffic sign at a junction
  4. Failure to stop at a stop sign or stop line
  5. Failure to yield at a stop sign or yield line
  6. Crossing continuous white line
  7. Failure to leave appropriate distance between you and vehicle in front
  8. Dangerous overtaking
  9. Failure to obey traffic lights

The first three existing offences listed above now carry two penalty points on payment of a fixed charge notice and four penalty points on conviction in court.  The remaining six offences now carry three penalty points on payment of a fixed charge notice and five points on conviction in court.
It is now the case that offences for using a vehicle without NCT or parking a vehicle in a dangerous position can be dealt with by way of fixed charge notice.  Previously, a person was automatically summonsed to court if these offences were committed.  As and from 8th December 2014, the person will receive three penalty points on payment of a fixed charge notice.  If the fixed charge notice is not paid and a person is summonsed to court, five penalty points are allocated on conviction.
There was some controversy in December 2014 about whether certain provisions of the Road Traffic Act 2014 were effective where they related to sections of older legislation which had not actually been commenced.  In cases where payment was made on foot of a fixed charge notice, this raised the question as to whether penalty points could be endorsed for offences committed since 1st August 2014, being the date on which the relevant sections of the 2014 Act were commenced.  After taking advice from the Attorney General, the Minister for Transport introduced amending legislation to rectify the defects in the 2014 Act.  The Road Traffic (No. 2) Act, 2014 was enacted and commenced on 25th December 2014 and affirms any penalty points endorsed on a person’s licence since 1st August 2014 following payment of a fixed charge notice.  The Act also clarifies that the number of penalty points to be endorsed will depend on the number applicable on the date of the alleged offence.