Deputy Broughan consistently asks Parliamentary Questions to both the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, on road safety legislation and the implementation of that legislation. Sometimes, in the cases of questions to Justice, Deputy Broughan can be waiting for years for replies. When Deputy Broughan asked both Ministers about the number of drivers disqualified in court each year in the years 2016, 2017 and to date in 2018 he was very surprised to see that the Department of Justice and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) both provided different figures in their replies.
Deputy Broughan today received a reply to a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, confirming that there were 52,395 Mandatory Intoxicant Testing (MIT) checkpoints from April 2017 to December 2017 and that there were 90 positive drug tests during that time.
Today in Dáil Éireann, Deputy Broughan warmly welcomed the Courts (No. 2) Bill 2016 which will allow for the commencement of Section 44 (the ‘third payment option’) of the Road Traffic Act 2010. Deputy Broughan has replies to Parliamentary Questions dated back to 2012 when he was calling for the commencement of this Section.
Currently if a person is convicted of a fixed charge offence, they are issued with a Fixed Charge Notice (FCN) indicating the detail of the offence(s) and giving them 28 days to pay the specified fine. A further 28 days payment period is then permitted plus a 50% increase in the fine amount (total of 56 days) if the FCN remains unpaid. The Courts (No. 2) Bill 2016 provides the legislative framework to allow for the commencement of Section 44 of the Road Traffic Act 2010, which is also known as the ‘third payment option’.
I understand the director of the Road Safety Authority, RSA, was in the House this morning. Since 2013, the authority has been responsible for administering driving licences through the National Driver Licence Service, NDLS. According to figures that were released in 2015, approximately 96% of drivers who are disqualified in court do not surrender their licences. The Irish Times recently reported on RSA figures that show “there are almost 8,000 drivers on Ireland’s roads who have multiple concurrent disqualifications on their licences but continue to flout the law by driving”. I have asked the Minister about this matter previously.
I thank the Minister of State for coming to the House to take this debate. I understand the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Donohoe, is in Brussels. The Minister of State last took a similar debate on 22 October. He told me in respect of questions I put to the Minister that he had no doubt the Minister would address the issues I raised, because it was not in his nature not to do so. Unfortunately, the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, has not given me any replies to the key questions I put to the Minister of State that day. For example, I requested that the Minister would clarify whether it was the case that there is no requirement in legislation for the Courts Service to record the licence of a disqualified driver. I also asked for clarification regarding the breathalyser printouts and whether they had to be in English and Irish.
Deputy Tommy Broughan has welcomed news received this week that Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe, will soon be commencing Section 6 (c) of the Road Traffic Act 2014 which will “create a Garda power of arrest in cases of people driving while disqualified.”
Deputy Tommy Broughan this week called for a Topical Issues debate on the urgent need for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and Minister for Justice and Equality to work together to prioritise the improvement of communications and collaboration between the Road Safety Authority, the Gardaí and the Courts Service to ensure the prosecution and application of penalty points on those convicted of traffic offences and in particular those charged with dangerous driving offences.