The National Driver Licensing Service (NDLS) is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority (RSA).
I met with the acting CEO of the RSA in recent weeks to discuss the difficulties some people have experienced, and how the RSA proposed to address them. The RSA acknowledged that there were teething problems when the service opened for business on 29 October 2013. Some were technical and systems issues, while others related to new staff becoming familiar with rules and processes around driving licences and permits.
The RSA has responded by increasing resources in NDLS centres experiencing delays, as well as in the licence processing centre, and providing further training to staff. There are no major technical difficulties now affecting the service. A booking system to allow for customers to make appointments has been operating in a Pilot Phase which was successful. This system will now be provided in all NDLS offices.
While I understand that there are still some backlogs in relation to applications, the situation has improved. I have been informed that licence applications that are fully and correctly completed are being issued within 8 days. The RSA has assured me that the remaining backlog will be cleared by mid-February. The NDLS can also respond to urgent situations where a licence is needed for travel abroad or for work purposes.
The requirement to return the old licence when applying for a new one may raise concerns regarding the legal requirement to produce a licence when requested by a member of An Garda Síochána. If the person cannot produce the licence at the time, the law allows ten days in which to produce it at a Garda station. In most cases, if a licence is in process, this is sufficient time for the new licence to arrive. Where it is not, the Gardaí may choose to exercise discretion. I understand that the NDLS has advised the Gardaí of the delays with issuing some licences.