Minister publishes review of penalty point system

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar T.D. yesterday published a review of the existing penalty point system along with a number of proposals for reform including the possible introduction of a graduated system for points relating to speeding offences. There is also consideration of new powers for Gardai to impound and sell uninsured vehicles.

In the press release published by his department on Monday, the minister is quoted as saying:

The penalty points system has been in operation for almost ten years. Therefore, I considered it opportune to carry out a general review of the points applying to each offence to determine if the levels were still appropriate and effective.

We often hear calls to increase penalty points for one offence or another and to introduce new offences. I want to ensure that there is coherence in the penalties which apply to offences. I also want to avoid ad-hoc adjustments which could result in disproportionate penalties being applied to individual offences. The number of penalty points incurred should be proportionate to the gravity of the offence in terms of road safety.
The penalty point system has operated successfully because it streamlined the approach to fixed charge penalties and provided drivers with the option of avoiding a court appearance. It also reduced the amount of time that Gardaí were required to attend court, and meant that they could be deployed on more pressing matters. It is one of the reasons for the dramatic fall in road deaths over the past ten years.

The proposal document is a scanned PDF, and is appended to the department’s press release which can be read in full on their web site at:

As regards motorcycles, the document contains the following passage: Road user type

1 in 3 of the fatalities in 2009 were vulnerable road users. While the offences in the points system cannot be attributed to all these cases it is possible to align some offences against this category, e.g. motorcycle drivers & speed etc. Given the change in approach in that Novice drivers are being treated separately under the Penalty Point system it may be possible to extend this targeted view to other license holders, i.e. motor bike drivers. In 2009 motor bike drivers accounted for 2% of road traffic but disproportionately 11% of fatalities. Over the period 1997-2009, 560 motorcyclists have been killed on Irish roads. In 2009 there were 6 deaths of motorcycle drivers in single vehicle collisions alone.


7% (6), of single vehicle fatal collisions (83 in 2009) involved motorbikes. It is recognised that single vehicle collisions are attributed to speed, fatigue, and/or alcohol/drug consumption. There is reason for further research into specific penalties for high risk license holders such as motorcyclists.

MAG Ireland will be publishing our formal response to this in due course.