Motorists could face huge fines if they are caught by gardai for breaking several serious safety laws on Irish roads.
Depending on the seriousness of the violation, there are different penalties attached which range from fixed charges, which are fines, to imprisonment for the most serious crimes.
The ramifications become more severe if you receive a fixed charge notice and fail to pay the fine on time as you will be summoned to appear in court.
Ireland also uses a penalty points system for driving offences, and when a driver reaches 12 points, they will be disqualified from driving.
Charges accompanying penalty points can vary, so here’s a list of road traffic offences that come with the biggest fines under Irish laws:
It’s no surprise that dangerous driving carries the most stringent penalties.
If you are convicted of dangerous driving, you could be fined up to €5000, or be sent to prison for up to six months, or both.
Anyone found guilty of dangerous driving causing death or serious bodily harm could lead to fines of up to €20,000 and up to ten years in jail, or both.
Driving without due care and attention in a public place is considered careless driving.
If a garda believes that you have driven carelessly, but no accident occurred, they can issue you with two penalty points and an €80 fixed charge for “driving without reasonable consideration”.
If you are summoned to appear before the court, this rises to four points and €120.
There are a number of other offences based on disobeying road signs or acting carelessly and these mainly attract penalty points and fines.
These include failure to yield, breaking traffic lights, and failing to stop at a junction.
However, if the offence is more serious, you could be convicted of careless driving and fined up to €5,000.
Furthermore, if you are convicted of careless driving causing death or serious bodily harm, you could be fined up to €10,000 and imprisoned for up to two years, or both.
There are several reasons why you could be in breach of road traffic rules when it comes to licences.
1. Driving without a licence
Firstly, it is an offence to drive without a licence.
A garda can ask you to produce your driving licence for inspection, and if you don’t have it with you, you must bring it to a garda station within ten days.
If you don’t have a current licence, and your driving licence expired less than 12 months before the offence took place, you could be fined up to €1,000.
If it was more than 12 months since your licence was valid, or if you never had a valid licence, you could be fined up to €2,000.
The biggest fine in this category is given for driving while disqualified, or if you are required to produce a certificate of competency or fitness before getting a driving licence but you fail to do so.
For this offence, you could be fined up to €6,000, or be sent to prison for six months, or both.
2. Learner and novice drivers
Fines for breaking learner or novice driver rules are less stringent.
Learner drivers who travel on the road unaccompanied could be fined €80 fine and get two penalty points. This increases to €120 and four points in court.
On the other hand, if you allow a learner driver to drive your car unaccompanied, you could be fined up to €1,000.
All learner drivers (except in category W, which includes motorcycles) must display ‘L’ plates, and when you have passed your test, you must display an ‘N’ plate for two years.
You could receive a fine of €60 and two penalty points (€90 and four points in court) for failing to do so.
Drink or drug driving offences
The fourth category which could lead to the steepest fines is for drink or drug driving offences.
There are various metrics used to designate whether a motorist is too intoxicated to drive and therefore does not have proper control of their vehicle.
Gardai often set up roadblocks to conduct random alcohol and drug testing.
It is unlawful to refuse to be breathalysed, and for not acquiescing, you could be fined up to €5,000, or be jailed for up to six months, or both.
There are various alcohol limits used to determine whether a driver has exceeded the permitted amount.
You commit an offence if an alcohol test taken within three hours of driving finds that you have above:
- 50 milligrams (or 20 milligrams for learner or novice drivers) of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or
- 67 milligrams (or 27 milligrams for learner or novice drivers) of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine, or
- 22 micrograms (or 9 micrograms for learner or novice drivers) of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath
The maximum penalty for drink or drug driving is a €5,000 fine and/or imprisonment for up to six months.
Additionally, all drink driving offences result in disqualification from driving for at least three months.
Roadworthiness of the vehicle
If you are driving a “dangerously defective” vehicle, or one which may pose a danger to the public because of its condition, the penalty is a fine of up to €5,000, jail time of up to three months, or both.
It is also an offence to drive a vehicle in a public place without a current NCT certificate, and this applies to vehicles from the fourth anniversary of their first registration.
The fine for driving without an NCT certificate is up to €2,000, while you may also receive five penalty points, up to three months in prison, or all three.
If you are driving a vehicle that has eight passenger seats or more, or you drive a goods vehicle, goods trailer or ambulance, you must have a certificate of roadworthiness.
If you cannot produce one within ten days of being requested to do so by the gardai, you are guilty of an offence.
It is an offence to park your car in a place where it could be dangerous to other people.
You can get three penalty points and a fine of €80, and if you do not pay within 28 days, the fine increases to €120.
When proceedings go to court, the fines jump to a massive €2,500 for a first offence, or up to €4,000 if it is not your first offence under this law.
Failing to display insurance or tax
Motorists are required to have insurance to drive a car in your own name or as a named driver on someone else’s policy.
Failure to display an insurance disk carries a fixed charge of €60 (rising to €90 after 28 days).
Even more serious is if you drive while uninsured as you could be fined up to €5,000 and get five penalty points. You could also go to prison for up to six months.
The judge may also decide to disqualify you from driving instead of giving you penalty points.
It is also an offence to drive an untaxed vehicle or to drive without displaying a current tax disc.
Driving over the speed limit is probably why most motorists get caught for breaking road traffic rules.
The offence attracts three penalty points and a fine of €80.
If you do not pay the fine within 28 days, it increases to €120, and after another 28 days you will be summonsed to court where, if convicted, you could be fined up to €1,000 and receive up