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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019

Gardaí will soon be able to test ‘unconscious drivers’ for drugs and drink

That’s under new road safety laws which were enacted today in the Seanad.

ROADSIDE IMPAIRMENT TESTS, novice driver licences and higher penalty points for speeding are all included in the new road traffic laws that were enacted today.

The Road Traffic No 2 Act 2013 was enacted in the Seanad today and the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, has outlined what we can expect.

He said that penalty points for using a mobile phone will rise from two to three, and that there will also be roadside impairment test to check for drug driving.

There will also be higher penalty points for speeding, and not wearing seatbelts; and the act allows “unconscious drivers” to be tested for intoxication.


Varadkar added:

The law on hit-and-run incidents has been tightened, and we have brought in a new offence of tampering with an odometer, commonly known as ‘clocking’ a vehicle.

Road deaths rose last year, and although ten fewer people have died so far this year, Varadkar said “we can never let up on road safety”.

The Bill was drafted following consultation with the Oireachtas Transport Committee, in particular the changes to the penalty points system.


Here’s some of what we can expect in the bill:

  • Roadside impairment testing, where Gardaí can carry out cognitive tests to establish if a driver is under the influence of an intoxicant. The result of the test can be used if a prosecution proceeds.
  • A new Road Traffic offence of tampering with an odometer (clocking) with a penalty of €2,500 and/or three months in prison.

There will be tougher penalties for involvement in a hit and run accident:

  • When a person flees the scene, with intent to escape liability, and does not offer assistance, knowing injury has been caused, €10,000 and/or seven years
  • Where death results, €20,000 and/or 10 years.

The act changes the level of penalty points for several offences, and these changes will come into effect when the Garda Pulse system is next updated.

  • Speeding will now attract three points on payment of fixed charge and five on conviction (previously two and four);
  • Mobile phone use will now attract three points on payment of fixed charge and five on conviction (previously two and two);
  • Non-wearing of seatbelts will now attract three points on payment of fixed charge and 5 on conviction (previously two and four);
  • Other offences such as non-display of an NCT certificate, which at present involve a Court appearance, will attract 2 points on payment of fixed charge.

When it comes to taking a blood specimen in hospital from a driver incapacitated following a road traffic collision, the new laws specify:

  • The permission of the treating doctor will be required before the specimen can be taken and the results of the analysis will be revealed only when the driver can, subsequently, give permission.


There will also be a new ‘novice’ driving licence, for the first two years of a first licence. Novices will be required to display an ‘N’ plate.

The disqualifying level for novice and learner drivers will be set at seven penalty points, just over half the level for other drivers.

Plus, learner drivers will have to produce a log book indicating that they have taken a minimum of accompanied driving experience before taking a driving test.

This is as well as the 12 formal lessons with approved driving instructors that are already required of them.

Poll: Own up, have you ever texted while driving?>

Read: 66 drivers have been put off the road twice for penalty point offences>

Read: A car crash caused by texting while driving caught on camera>

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