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Driving unaccompanied: Learner drivers fined total of over €100,000 for not paying fixed charge notices

Since the beginning of 2019, over 11,600 fixed charge notices have been issued to learner drivers.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Shutterstock/lensmen

LEARNER DRIVERS HAVE paid fines of over €100,000 after being convicted in court for driving unaccompanied by a qualified driver since the Clancy Amendment was enacted two years ago. 

A total of 11,600 fixed charge notices were issued to learner drivers over the past two years for driving unaccompanied and, of these, over 2,300 people were summonsed to court for not paying the charge. 

Just under €90,000 worth of fines were imposed last year while almost €30,000 was collected this year, with a sharp drop during the pandemic.

The road traffic laws – which make it an offence for the owner of a vehicle to knowingly allow an unaccompanied learner or an unlicenced person to drive their vehicle – were enacted in late December 2018 following a sustained campaign sparked by Corkman Noel Clancy. 

The provisions also extend the power of detention under section 41 of the Road Traffic Act 1994 to allow the Garda Síochána to detain a vehicle being driven, in the garda’s opinion, by an unaccompanied learner.

Noel Clancy’s wife, Geraldine Clancy (58) and his daughter, Louise (22), were tragically killed when they were hit by a car being driven by an unaccompanied learner driver in December 2015.

In November, TheJournal.ie reported that vehicles were seized by the gardaí under the Clancy Amendment more than 5,000 times since the law was enacted.

In further figures released to Social Democrat co-leader Catherine Murphy via parliamentary question, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee outlined more statistics around the amendment.

In 2019, 6,145 fixed charge notices were issued to learner drivers unaccompanied by a qualified driver. In the first 10 months of 2020, a further 5,468 fixed charge notices were issued.

Statistics were also made available on the number of learner drivers summonsed to court for failure to pay, the number convicted, and the fines imposed. 

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In 2019, 1,496 people were summonsed to court. A further 489 were convicted with 534 total fines imposed. From these fines, €89,449 was collected. 

In the first ten months of 2020, 887 people were summonsed to court. Of these, 175 were convicted with 184 fines imposed. The overall amount collected was €29,865.

In all, €119,314 has been collected from these fines.

Speaking when the laws came into effect in December 2018, then-Minister for Transport Shane Ross said he hoped it would have a “serious impact on driving culture in this country”. 

He said: “I hope that vehicle owners will act responsibly when allowing learners to drive their vehicles, be those learners sons and daughters, friends, or other family members. Unaccompanied learner driving is illegal and it is dangerous.”

About the author:

Sean Murray

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