Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (211)

Brendan Howlin


211. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Transport if he is satisfied with the conditions imposed on Irish citizens who previously held full Irish driver licences seeking to renew their licence on their return to Ireland; his views on whether it is acceptable to require such returning nationals with a clean licence record to undergo six essential driver training sessions and pay a variety of other fees in order to prove driving competence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37767/20]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

An Irish driving licence can be renewed up to 10 years after the date of expiry of the licence. If a licence is not renewed after 10 years, the licence holder is no longer considered a qualified driver. Irish driver licensing law operates within a framework of European Union law. An Irish driving licence can only be issued to a resident of Ireland. Nationality is not a consideration. It is important to remember that driver licensing law exists to ensure that people licensed to drive on our roads meet high standards of safety. The standards for testing drivers are set at EU level.

All EU driving licences are exchangeable when a person moves from one Member State to another. In the case of non-EU jurisdictions, we may make bilateral agreements on licence exchange. These are not a straightforward matter. They can be made only when the relevant authorities in each jurisdiction have studied and compared the two licensing regimes, so that each side can be satisfied that they are compatible. On the Irish side, this task is undertaken by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

When people come to Ireland with a non-exchange licence, we have no option but to require them to go through the process of obtaining an Irish licence. This is a matter of public safety. While many may have a safe driving record, we have no way of measuring this.

At present, people with a full but non-exchange licence go through the normal driver learning process but can avail of the shorter Essential Driver Training of 6 lessons instead of the usual 12, and do not have to wait the usual minimum of 6 months before taking a driving test. Some might have preferred to abolish the EDT altogether for people in this position. Following consultation with the RSA, it is clear that some lessons would be useful in helping people to adjust to Irish driving rules and conditions and in preparing people for the driving test.