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Licensed Drivers

How the penalty points system works

The penalty points system encourages safe driving. 

Penalty points are designed to encourage safe driving and reduce casualties on our roads.

Our speed cameras campaign helps drivers understand the dangers of and penalties for speeding.


Background

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. In December 2014 penalty point offences were introduced for learner drivers unaccompanied, learner and novice drivers not displaying L and N plates respectively.


What are penalty points?

Penalty points are essentially a formal reprimand by the Gardai endorsed on your driving licence record that shows you are guilty of a specific driving offence.


About penalty points

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

On accumulating 12 penalty points within any given three-year period you will be automatically disqualified from driving for six months.

A lower threshold of seven penalty points leading to disqualification applies to any driver who is granted a first learner permit on or after 1 August 2014 while driving under a learner permit, and subsequently during the first two years while driving under first driving licence.

Where you held a learner permit before 1 August 2014 and obtain a first full licence after 1 August 2014 you will be disqualified on accumulating 12 penalty points in a 3 year period or on accumulating 7 new penalty points after 1 August 2014 whichever first until you have held the driving licence for 2 years.

You are required to surrender your 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.


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.  A third payment option is available where the fine can be paid up to 7 days before the court date. The fine will be double the original fine and the points will be applied. Details of the third payment option will be delivered with the summons for court.

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. 


Enquiries about the penalty points system

For any queries relating to the penalty points system you can email [email protected].


Frequently asked questions

Penalty points stay on your licence record for 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.  

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 e.g., where you already have 10 points and commit an offence caught by camera.
Penalty points apply to all driving licences and learner permits.  
You may seek to have the fixed charge notice cancelled if there were exceptional circumstances relating to your case i.e. before the fine is paid - information about this process can be found at www.garda.ie under cancelling a fixed charge notice  

Yes. 

When you are issued with a fixed charge notice for a penalty points offence, you can opt to pay the fine and accept the penalty points or you can go to court and have the matter decided upon there.  

On payment of a fixed charge notice or on foot of a Court decision the penalty points are applied to the licence record of the driver concerned and remain on the record for three years. An appeal against a court decision can be lodged within 14 days of the decision with the Courts. The Road Safety Authority has no power to remove penalty points and can only do so on the direction of a Court or An Garda Síochána.

You can find further information and FAQs about penalty points on ndls.ie.