How it works, why it matters

Penalty points are designed to encourage safe driving and reduce casualties on our roads. This section explains how the system works and lists the offences that incur penalty points.


The penalty points system for driving offences was introduced in Ireland on 31 October 2002. The aim of penalty points is to improve driver behaviour in Ireland and reduce the levels of death and serious injury on our roads.The system was extended to insurance, seat belt wearing and careless driving offences in 2003 and 2004. In August 2014 a lower threshold of points leading to disqualification of learner and novice drivers was introduced. For more information read our FAQ here. In December 2014 penalty point offences for learner drivers unaccompanied, learner and novice drivers not displaying L and N plates respectively, a range of  other new offences and increased points for some exisiting offences, were introduced. For more information read our FAQ here.

What are penalty points?

A penalty point is essentially a formal reprimand by the Gardai endorsed on your driving licence record that shows you are guilty of a specific driving offence.

From 17 April 2016 there are  63 road traffic offences that attract penalty points, click here for a full list.

How does the system work?

 Penalty point offences are recorded on your driving licence record if:

  • You are convicted of a driving offence that attracts penalty points, or 
  • You are served with a fixed charge notice for an alleged offence that attracts penalty points and you opt to pay the fine rather than having the matter referred to the courts

Any driver accumulating 12 penalty points within any given three-year period will be automatically disqualified from driving for six months. A lower threshold of 7 penalty points leading to disqualification applies to any driver taking out a first learner permit on or after 1 August 2014 while he or she drives under any learner permit and subsequently during the first two years while he or she is driving under a full driving licence. Where a driver has a foreign licence a record will be created and the penalty points recorded on that record.

The driver is required to surrender his/her Irish or foreign driving licence to the  National Driver Licence Service within 10 days of  disqualification commencing. It is an offence not to surrender a licence. It is also an offence to drive while disqualified.

How long will the penalty points stay on my licence record for?

Penalty points remain on the licence record for a period of three years. The three years will not include any period where your licence is out of date or where you are disqualified from driving because of another offence. If your driving licence is out of date, the points will only apply from whenever you renew your licence.

Penalty points do not physically appear on the licence. Instead, your points are recorded on your driving licence record. These records are held on the National Vehicle and Driver file operated by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

If you have committed a driving offence that incurs penalty points you will receive a written notification informing you that points are being added to your driving licence record. This notice will include details of your name, address, date time and location of the driving offence concerned. It will also confirm that you either paid the fixed charge for the offence or were convicted in the court of such offence. The notice will also contain a date on which the notice was issued to you. This is the important date as the points will only be added to your licence record 28 days after this date.

Why do penalty points not take effect from the date of the offence?

Penalty points do not take effect from the date of the offence because:

  • The points can only be applied after you pay a fixed charge or after you are found guilty of the offence;
  • A licence holder is disqualified from driving 28 days after a written notice has issued and not immediately as otherwise it would be possible that you would be driving while disqualified without knowledge of the disqualification – for example, where you already have 10 points and commit an offence caught by camera.

Payment of fixed charges

Offences can be detected by Garda interception or, in the case of speeding offences, by speed cameras. 

Where a Garda interception takes place you must show your driving licence to the Garda so that he/she can take your driver number. In most cases, a fixed charge notice setting out the fine payable will then be issued, and you have the option of paying the fixed charge or allowing the matter to proceed to court. 

A person has 28 days from the date the fixed charge notice is issued to pay. Anyone who pays in the subsequent 28 days pays that amount plus 50%. Court proceedings are initiated if a fixed charge is not paid within this 56-day period.

Most penalty point offences also attract fixed charges, but a small number of offences result in automatic summons to court without the option of paying a fixed charge.

Where an offence is detected by camera, the fixed-charge notice will be sent to the registered owner. The Road Traffic Act provides that unless another person is identified as the driver it will be assumed that the registered owner was driving the vehicle at the time of the occurrence of the alleged offence.

There is an explicit requirement that where the registered owner of a vehicle was not driving or using the vehicle he or she must give the name and contact details of the driver of the vehicle. No payment should be enclosed. 

When this information is received, the fixed charge notice will be issued to the named driver, on whose licence record the points will be endorsed, either on payment of a fixed charge or a court conviction. 

Cancelling Penalty Points

 If you believe there are grounds for cancelling a  fixed charge notice or prosecution because of exceptional circumstances there is a formal process in  place for reviewing such cases. This review is undertaken by An Garda Síochana and further information can be found at

What licences do penalty points apply to?

Penalty points apply to all driving licences and learner permits.

For enquiries about the Penalty Point system, please email

Road Safety Authority
Co Mayo
Tel 0761087880