Gardai are able to arrest motorists caught driving while disqualified, under new rules that came into force this week.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, has signed an Order commencing new powers for An Garda Síochána, allowing them to arrest people who drive while disqualified.
The Order, which commences section 6(b ) and (c ) of the Road Traffic Act 2014, came into effect on Monday.
Minister Donohoe said: “Drivers not surrendering their licences to the licensing authority (the RSA ) and continuing to drive while disqualified has been identified as an issue that needs to be tackled. People who continue to drive after they have been disqualified commit a serious and unacceptable offence. They are blatantly disregarding the sanction imposed by the court for another offence or offences which has put them off the road and should be dealt with severely.”
“Driving while disqualified, like all forms of unlicensed driving, is already an offence. It is a particularly serious form of unlicensed driving, because people in such cases have been explicitly barred from driving, generally for road traffic offences, which means that they have posed a danger on the roads.”
While it is not possible to state precisely how many drivers may be driving while disqualified, figures show that, in recent years, approximately 10 per cent of drivers disqualified in any given year were later subject to prosecution for driving while disqualified. Almost 13,000 drivers were disqualified in each of 2013 and 2014, with nearly 6,000 disqualified to date in 2015.
The number of prosecutions for driving while disqualified was 1,286 in 2013; 1,392 in 2014; and 592 to date in 2015.
Before the new measures were commenced, Gardaí who identified people driving while disqualified were required to initiate proceedings resulting in a summons to court, and the case could take months to reach the courts. Under the new measures, Gardaí will be able to arrest drivers driving while disqualified, and bring them to court as early as the next day, or even on the day of the arrest, if a court is sitting.