Wednesday, 25 February 2004

Ceisteanna (145)

Gay Mitchell


232 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason penalty points for an alleged offence of speeding on 8 March 2003 will not be entered into the record of the licence of a person, details supplied, in Dublin 6W until 25 February 2004, nearly a year after the date of the offence and seven months after the payment of a fixed charge, effectively meaning they will have penalty points for a period of three years and 11 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6395/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

The matter referred to by the Deputy is an operational matter for the Garda Síochána and as such I have no role in regard to it. However, I have had inquiries made and I am informed by the Garda authorities that, while delays occurred at several stages during the processing of this speeding notice, a number of set periods are provided for in the Road Traffic Acts, for example, a vehicle owner has up to 28 days within which she or he may nominate the person driving the car followed by a further 56 days within which she or he may avail of the option to pay the fixed charge.

Contributory factors to the delay in the case referred to by the Deputy were that the recipient of the fixed charge notice did not respond to it for seven weeks, as is her statutory right. However, when the notice was returned it was not completed as required by law and consequently had to be returned to her leading to a further delay.

Neither I nor the Garda authorities have any involvement in the recording of penalty points on a driving licence but I understand it is not correct to say that the points are on this person's licence for a period exceeding three years. I am informed that when the issues mentioned were finalised and the cheque payment cleared, the Garda authorities then transmitted the information to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government which in turn notified the driver that the penalty points would be recorded against her licence for a three year period with effect from four weeks from that date, as required by sections 5 and 7 of the Road Traffic Act 2002.

The Deputy will appreciate that the penalty points system is currently operating on a semi-manual basis. It will be computerised later this year when the fixed charge processing system becomes operational.