Bill will legislate for roadside drug impairment tests, ‘Novice’ driver licences, higher penalty points, testing of unconscious drivers
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has published the Road Traffic Bill 2013 following its sign-off by Cabinet.
The measures in the Bill will enhance safety on Irish roads by legislating for roadside impairment tests for drug driving, higher penalty points for speeding, mobile phone use and not wearing seatbelts, and will allow unconscious drivers to be tested.
The Minister appealed to motorists to renew efforts to drive safely following an increase in road fatalities so far this year.
“Last year saw the lowest number of deaths ever recorded on Irish roads, but the rise in fatalities so far this year is deeply worrying. The measures in this Bill will have a significant effect on road safety by targeting key areas. We will strengthen the penalty points system, legislate for roadside impairment testing for drug driving, and reinforce the driver learning process,” Minister Varadkar said.
“My intention is to introduce this Bill in the Oireachtas as quickly as possible. I am concerned that the number of road fatalities for the first half of this year has exceeded that of the past two years. Every road user has a responsibility to behave safely, whether you are a driver, motorcyclist, cyclist or pedestrian. I appeal to everyone to take extra care, and ask motorists in particular to slow down.”
The Bill was drafted following consultation with the Oireachtas Transport Committee, in particular the changes to the penalty points system.
As of today, 91 people have lost their lives on our roads in 2013, compared with 89 at the same time in 2012 and 88 in 2011.
Details of the Bill
• Further measures in the Graduated Driver Licence System by:
o Introducing the concept of ‘Novice’ for the first two years of a first licence. Novices will be required to display an ‘N’ plate;
o Setting the disqualifying level for novice and learner drivers at six penalty points, half the level for other drivers;
o Requiring learner drivers to produce a log book indicating that they have untaken a minimum (to be specified in Regulations) of accompanied driving experience before taking a driving test. This is in addition to the 12 formal lessons with approved driving instructors already required.
• Taking a blood specimen in hospital from a driver incapacitated following a road traffic collision. 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.
• 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.
• The Bill will also adjust the level of penalty points for some offences. There will be increases for offences such as:
o Speeding will now attract 3 points on payment of fixed charge and 5 on conviction (previously 2 and 4);
o Mobile phone use will now attract 3 points on payment of fixed charge and 5 on conviction (previously 2 and 4);
o Non-wearing of seatbelts will now attract 3 points on payment of fixed charge and 5 on conviction (previously 2 and 4);
o 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.
There are also a number of minor technical amendments.