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Car owners who allow unaccompanied learner drivers to use their vehicle to face prosecution

Allowing someone who does not have a licence drive your car will also be an offence.

Image: Shutterstock/Christopher Elwell

CAR OWNERS WHO allow unaccompanied learner drivers to use their vehicles could face prosecution for the first time under new measures approved by Cabinet today.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross sought approval for an amendment to the Road Traffic Bill, dubbed the ‘Clancy amendment’.

Noel Clancy’s wife, Geraldine Clancy (58) and his daughter, Louise (22), and were tragically killed in an accident involving an unaccompanied learner driver in December 2015.

The driver, Susan Gleeson, was subsequently given a three-year suspended sentence.

Since their deaths, Noel Clancy has been campaigning for a change in the law that would make the car owner and driver equally accountable in the law.

Last November, Ross first sought approval for the rule change, however a number of concerns around a loop-hole were subsequently raised.

The Attorney General’s Office identified a loop-hole in the proposed legislation.

As matters stand, it would become an offence for the owner of a vehicle to allow an unaccompanied learner driver to drive that vehicle, but not an offence to allow a person who has no driving licence or learner permit to drive the vehicle.

It is now proposed that the government address this by approving the creation of a new offence of a vehicle owner allowing a person who is not the holder of a driving licence or learner permit to drive the vehicle.

If prosecuted, the car owner could face a six-month prison sentence.

Gardaí will also be given the power to seize a vehicle if a learner driver is discovered to be driving without a qualified driver present.

Speaking about the measure last year, the minister said the government were determined to make sure that people do not lend their cars or give their keys to unaccompanied learner drivers, stating:

Learner drivers who drive unaccompanied are breaking the law. They mustn’t do it and we must enforce it.

The issue will be debated at the Oireachtas Transport Committee at the end of this month.

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