COULD we be looking at a new system emerging where penalty point in the South if Ireland also count in the North?
Environment Minister Alex Attwood today launched a public consultation on proposals to introduce mutual recognition of penalty points between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
The island of Ireland would be the first place in Europe to work across borders in this way.
Mutual recognition of penalty points across the island of Ireland would complement and strengthen the benefits already achieved through the introduction of mutual recognition of driving disqualifications in 2010. It would deal with those drivers who act irresponsibly when they cross the border and commit motoring offences which fall short of disqualification but which may nevertheless be serious offences.
Minister Attwood said: “This consultation is an important step forward in improving road safety on the island of Ireland. It seeks opinions on closing the loophole that currently allows Northern Ireland motorists to escape penalty points they have incurred in the Republic of Ireland and vice versa. People will now think twice about speeding or not wearing seatbelts when they cross the border if this is introduced.
“There is no model in Europe for the mutual recognition of penalty points by two jurisdictions. This is groundbreaking work and, in the fullness of time, it will be a template for other members of the European Union, should they choose to follow what we do.
“Minister Varadkar and I are taking this forward because we want to send out the message that there will be enforcement of the penalty point regime for anyone who is guilty of serious motoring offences. The offences of speeding, drink/drug driving, non-wearing of seatbelts and using a mobile phone while driving have been selected as an initial starting point, because of the direct impact they have on road safety and on the numbers killed and seriously injured on our roads.”
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar TD said: “Last year I agreed a detailed timetable with Minister Attwood for new legislation to allow the mutual recognition of penalty points across Ireland. The Government in the Republic is very keen to get a working system in place and I welcome this ongoing co-operation from Northern Ireland.”
Minister Attwood added: “Real progress on mutual recognition of penalty points has been made. A detailed timetable has been agreed, which will see the necessary legislation enacted North and South by the end of 2014.”
The consultation period begins on 12 March 2013 and ends on 14 May 2013. The document and partial Regulatory Impact Assessment are available on the DOE’s website at www.doeni.gov.uk – click the link to Consultations.