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by Tim Beissmann

A new law introduced across the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland today will prevent drivers avoiding disqualifications for serious driving offences when they cross the borders.

UK drivers will no longer be able to escape punishment for serious motoring offences committed in Ireland when they return home, and the same applies for Irish drivers offending in the UK and returning home to Ireland.

UK Road Safety Minister, Paul Clark, said the new law was the next important step in making the roads safer.

“We’ve cut the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40 percent since the mid-1990s. That’s more than 19,000 fewer deaths or serious injuries in a year and means we now have some of the safest roads in the world.

“But we need to continue to work to make our roads even safer and if a UK driver commits a serious offence while in Ireland it is right that their ban should still apply when they return home.

“From today this new law will ensure that disqualified drivers are not able to escape their punishment and so keep dangerous drivers off the roads,” Mr Clark said.

The new law is the first practical step to recognise driving disqualifications in Europe under the terms of the 1998 European Convention on driving disqualifications.

The Convention stipulates that “serious motoring offences” include reckless or dangerous driving, hit-and-run driving, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, and driving while disqualified.

Campaigns officer for Brake, a UK-based road safety charity, Ellen Booth, said it is about time mutual recognition of driving disqualification came into effect.

“This common-sense measure is long overdue. Offenders who are disqualified for risk-taking on roads should not be ‘let off’ their ban simply because they have crossed the border into another country and Brake urges the Government to negotiate similar agreements with other countries.

“Reciprocal agreements should also extend to drivers disqualified under the totting-up system, who have shown repeated disregard for their own and other people’s safety on the road,” Ms Booth said.

Totting-up is the accumulation of penalty points for minor offences and the Convention and today’s new laws do not apply to drivers disqualified in that manner.




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