Don't Clock Up The Points

Walkaround Check
Penalty Points
Monday, March 13, 2017

How well do you and your drivers really know the rules of the road?

So your drivers all have their driving licence but are they full, novice or provisional?. Most HR departments at interview stage will determine if the person being interviewed has a driving licence but how well do you qualify this question to determine the exact type and category of licence they hold.

In August 2014, the RSA introduced the N-plates to the Driver Licensing System, swiftly followed by an introduction of further penalty point offences for learner drivers, effective from December of the same year.

As the first two years of driving are considered to be the highest risk, these measures were brought in as a way of reducing risk and encouraging good driving behaviour. Here are the key changes you should be aware of:

  • Non-display of N plates is an offence under traffic law and is punishable by a fine not exceeding €1,000 for a first offence.
  • A person granted a first full driving licence on or after 1 August 2014 must display N-plates on the vehicle for a period of 2 years.
  • Any period where the person is disqualified or otherwise ceases to hold a licence is not counted as part of the two years as a Novice.
  • The novice period applies only once, i.e. a person who holds a driving licence for a category of vehicle and who after a period of two years becomes entitled to drive another category, does not become a novice in respect of the new category.
  • Non-display of N plates is an offence under traffic law and is punishable by a fine not exceeding €1,000 for a first offence. On becoming a penalty point offence, failure to display an N-plate will carry 2 penalty points on payment of a fixed charge, or 4 on conviction by a court.
  • A lower threshold of penalty points leading to disqualification will apply to any driver who is granted their first learner permit on or after 1 August 2014 while they drive under a learner permit, and subsequently during the first two years while they drive under their first full driving licence.

As a learner or novice driver, you can now also earn penalty points for the following offences, which previously carried a fine or court appearance;

  • Learner permit holder driving unaccompanied by qualified person (N-plate driver does not count as a qualified driver).
  • Failure to display N-Plate or tabard.
  • Failure to display L-Plate or tabard.

There have been a lot of changes to the laws over the last few years, but just remember that good drivers shouldn’t be faced with too many issues.

So for each of the above offences there will be two penalty points on payment of a fixed charge, or four penalty points on conviction in court.

More recently a Fixed Charge Notice of €80 and two penalty points for driving with defective or worn tyres (not just for new drivers, but for everyone on the road). If you’re looking for some tips to ensure your tyres are safe. View the RSA Information Guide 

Get the Point not the Points

A penalty point is essentially a formal reprimand by the Gardai endorsed on your driving licence record that shows you are guilty of a specific driving offence.
Penalty point offences are recorded on your driving licence record if:

  • You are convicted of a driving offence that attracts penalty points, or 
  • You are served with a fixed charge notice for an alleged offence that attracts penalty points and you opt to pay the fine rather than having the matter referred to the courts.

Any driver accumulating 12 penalty points within any given three-year period will be automatically disqualified from driving for six months. A lower threshold of 7 penalty points leading to disqualification applies to any driver taking out a first learner permit on or after 1 August 2014 while he or she drives under any learner permit and subsequently during the first two years while he or she is driving under a full driving licence. Where a driver has a foreign licence a record will be created and the penalty points recorded on that record.

The driver is required to surrender his/her Irish or foreign driving licence to the  National Driver Licence Service within 10 days of  disqualification commencing. It is an offence not to surrender a licence. It is also an offence to drive while disqualified.

Penalty points remain on the licence record for a period of three years. The three years will not include any period where your licence is out of date or where you are disqualified from driving because of another offence. If your driving licence is out of date, the points will only apply from whenever you renew your licence.

Penalty points do not physically appear on the licence. Instead, your points are recorded on your driving licence record. These records are held on the National Vehicle and Driver file operated by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

If you have committed a driving offence that incurs penalty points you will receive a written notification informing you that points are being added to your driving licence record. This notice will include details of your name, address, date time and location of the driving offence concerned. It will also confirm that you either paid the fixed charge for the offence or were convicted in the court of such offence. The notice will also contain a date on which the notice was issued to you. This is the important date as the points will only be added to your licence record 28 days after this date.

Penalty points do not take effect from the date of the offence because:

  • The points can only be applied after you pay a fixed charge or after you are found guilty of the offence;
  • A licence holder is disqualified from driving 28 days after a written notice has issued and not immediately as otherwise it would be possible that you would be driving while disqualified without knowledge of the disqualification – for example, where you already have 10 points and commit an offence caught by camera.

Penalty Point Offenses

Don’t get the points Check-It

If the driver conducts their daily walk around check the potential to incur points could be avoided as these items will be reported by the driver and identified immediately allowing rectification.

  • Using a vehicle with defective or worn tyres .
  • Driving a vehicle when unfit.
  • Driving without insurance.
  • Using vehicle – (a) whose weight un-laden exceeds maximum permitted weight, 1 3 200 300 (b) whose weight laden exceeds maximum permitted weight, or (c) any part of which transmits to ground greater weight than maximum permitted weight.
  • Using vehicle (car) without valid test certificate (NCT).
  • Driving vehicle before remedying dangerous defect.
  • Driving dangerously defective vehicle.
  • Using commercial vehicle without certificate of roadworthiness.
  • Driving a vehicle when unfit.

If the vehicle walk around check is conducted in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the RSA some or all of these penalty points could be avoided

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