Some 10 per cent of drivers barred from motoring in recent years were prosecuted for driving while disqualified, according to the Minister for Transport.
“Drivers not surrendering their licences to the licensing authority [the RSA] and continuing to drive while disqualified have been identified as an issue that needs to be tackled,” said Minister Paschal Donohoe after signing the order that gives the Garda new powers to arrest such offenders on the spot.
“People who continue to drive after they have been disqualified commit a serious and unacceptable offence,” he added. “They are blatantly disregarding the sanction imposed by the court for another offence or offences which has put them off the road and should be dealt with severely.”
Although the State does not have exact number of drivers currently motoring while banned, the minister said available figures show that around “10 per cent of drivers disqualified in any given year were later subject to prosecution for driving while disqualified.
“Almost 13,000 drivers were disqualified in each of 2013 and 2014, with nearly 6,000 disqualified to date in 2015. The number of prosecutions for driving while disqualified was 1,286 in 2013, 1,392 in 2014, and 592 to date in 2015,” he added.
Before the new rules came into effect on Monday 22 June, Minister Donohoe said gardaí who identified people driving while banned “were required to initiate proceedings resulting in a summons to court, and the case could take months to reach the courts.
“Under the new measures, gardaí will be able to arrest drivers driving while disqualified and bring them to court as early as the next day, or even on the day of the arrest, if a court is sitting.
The new arrest power “represents the seriousness of the offence,” the minister said, adding that he expects it “will have a very significant deterrent effect for persons who drive while disqualified and ultimately enhance safety on our roads.”