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Gardaí are getting tough on anyone driving while disqualified

They will now be arrested straight away.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Updated 1.48pm

GARDAÍ WILL BE given new powers to arrest anyone found to be driving while disqualified.

This is aimed at speeding up the time it takes for the case to reach the courts, a process that can take months according to the Department of Transport.

Detailing the measures to Newstalk Breakfast, Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said it will allow gardaí to bring an offender to court “at the next nearest opportunity”, instead of having to issue a summons.

He described the issue of people driving while disqualified as “a very big problem” on Irish roads.

The Minister noted that serious offences, such as dangerous or drink-driving, must be committed before a driver is disqualified.

To do all of that, and then drive around the very roads you shouldn’t be on, isn’t acceptable.

The new powers come into effect on Monday. In a statement issued this afternoon, Donohoe gave more details on how widespread the problem is:

While it is not possible to state precisely how many drivers may be driving while disqualified figures show that, in recent years, approximately 10% 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. 

When questioned on enforcement of the law, Donohoe said gardaí are “making better use of the powers available to them”, and has resulted in some improvement in road safety.

“We need to do things differently,” he told Newstalk.

We need to make smarter use of technology, such as new forms of cameras. We also need to have a look at our law to see how it can be changed.

It’s also a big morning for Aer Lingus. Minister Donohoe said IAG entered its formal offer for the airline at 7am. Shareholders will now decide on what course of action to take, with a final decision being made on 16 July.

Read: Where in Ireland gets the most penalty points? >

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Nicky Ryan

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