Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (646)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

646. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 229 of 5 March and 545 of 8 May 2019 to which no reply was received, the number of drivers summoned for driving while disqualified; the number convicted and the penalty imposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36123/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I refer to your Parliamentary Questions No 229 for answer on 5 March 2019 and No 545 for answer on 8 May 2019. At the time, I indicated that I would request the information sought from the Courts Service and that I would write directly to you on receipt of same. This information has now been received and forms the basis of this response.

The statistics that the Courts Service can produce in relation to specific offences are obtained by running a report on its Criminal Court Tracking System, using the code for each specific offence. The codes in all instances are provided by An Garda Síochána. 

I am informed that An Garda Síochána has been instructed to cease using a code for the offence of 'driving while disqualified' after advice was received from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions clarifying that there is no separate offence of 'driving while disqualified'.

Section 38 of the Road Traffic Act 1961, as amended, creates an offence of driving without a licence. Section 38 (5) of the Act provides an increased penalty in respect of a person who is summarily convicted of an offence of driving without a licence during the period of disqualification (namely a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both). However, the specific offence remains one of driving without a licence. As such, the code 'driving while disqualified' has now been discontinued. As such, the Courts Service is not in a position to supply the information requested.

My Department has however made further enquiries made with An Garda Síochána and the following broader information may be of interest to the Deputy.

The following table, provided to me by the Garda authorities, sets out the number of courts proceedings taken in relation to the offence of driving without a driving licence for the years 2011 to 2019 (as of 12 July 2019):

Year

No. of People Driving without a Driving licence

2011

28,405

2012

25,116

2013

21,610

2014

20,806

2015

20,050

2016

21,516

2017

22,440

2018

21,566

2019* (to 12/07/2019)

7,106

The Deputy may also be interested to know that further informed that additional powers were provided to An Garda Síochána, allowing the arrest of people who drive while disqualified, under section 6(b) and (c) of the Road Traffic Act 2014, which came into effect from 22 June 2015.