TRANSPORT MINISTER Leo Varadkar has today published proposals for a review of Ireland’s penalty points system – including proposals to raise the penalties incurred for offences like using a mobile phone while driving.
The Department of Transport’s review proposes to increase the number of penalty points incurred by drivers for using handheld phones while driving, as well as speeding or failing to wear seat belts, from two penalty points to three.
Simultaneously, it also outlines plans to cut the penalties for other offences like driving without a valid NCT, or dangerous parking – intending to reduce the penalty from five points, and a compulsory court appearance, down to three points.
The Department has compared the current points system to similar systems in place in ten other jurisdictions, seeking to decide whether the current sanctions are the best way of improving road safety.
Aside from updating the penalty points model, the review also hopes to result in greater harmony with the penalty points regime operating in Northern Ireland – possibly leading to an eventual system where both jurisdictions will recognise penalty points incurred on either side of the border.
The plans will now be sent forward to the all-party Oireachtas committee on Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht, which will give its thoughts on the changes.
Those which survive the review process will then be incorporated into a new Road Traffic Bill to be published later in the year.
In a statement Varadkar said he wished to ensure “coherence” in the penalties applied to drivers breaking the rules, and avoid circumstances were individual offences could result in disproportionate penalties.