A mandatory consequential disqualification order follows conviction for certain offences or for repeat convictions for offences. The offences for which disqualification is mandatory and listed in the legislation. These are referred to as consequential disqualification orders and apply for the periods set in the legislation. There will generally be discretion as to whether the person is also to produce a certificate of competence or fitness. There generally must be some objective basis for such an order based on the drivers competence.
There are certain offences for which there is automatic disqualification, and a certificate of competency and fitness is required. This includes in particular certain categories of dangerous and careless driving and certain lesser categories of driving where a person was injured in consequence. In these cases person is disqualified unless the court is satisfied for a special reason which must be so found when the order is being made that person should not be so disqualified. This requires extenuating circumstances.
Disqualifications may apply to provisional licences. A person who has been disqualified may be obliged to apply for a certificate of competency in which event here she may apply for a provisional licence.
A person without a licence may be disqualified after they produce a certificate of competency.
Penalty Points & Disqualification
The 2002 Road Traffic Act provides for the imposition of penalty points. Generally, where a fixed penalty notice is paid in place of prosecution, the penalty points are at half the rate of that upon court conviction. The legislation specifies the number of penalty points applicable to each type of offence.
Generally, where a person is convicted of one or more penalty point offences for the same event, the offence carrying the greater amount of penalty points only, is endorsed. Where a conviction is reversed on appeal, the points are removed.
A person may be disqualified from having a driver’s licence for a period of 12 months when he accumulates 12 penalty points or more on his license. His Irish license stands suspended. It does not apply to a foreign driving licence.
At the end of the period of disqualification the Minister shall cause to be removed any penalty point standing endorsed at the date of the notice. Penalty points remain on license for three years and are removed after that period. Notice is given of the removal.
The Road Safety Authority. The Authority maintains licensing records including notes of points and disqualifications.
A person charged with a wide range of offences, including most road traffic offences must, on the first date he is to appear, or in a later date at the discretion of the judge, produce his driving licence or learner permit to the court clerk and provide a legible copy of that licence to the court.Certain convictions and disqualification orders may be endorsed in records in lieu of being endorsed in the licences.
The penalty point system has largely replaced the provisions for endorsement of offences on licenses. Licences are maintained on electronic registers. The court is to direct that particulars of a conviction and disqualification are to be endorsed on the driving licence or on the licence record.
Where a disqualification order is made whether an automatic disqualification or a discretionary disqualification on the occasion of an offence or otherwise, the court officer is to notify the licensing authority.
A disqualification may be endorsed on a visitor’s driving permit. Where the permit was issued by the Automobile Association, it is to be returned to it and it retains it for the period of the disqualification.
Disqualification on Convictions
The First Schedule to the Road Traffic Act 2002 sets out the penalty points for breach of various road traffic offences. It distinguishes between penalty points on fixed charge notices and on conviction.
A person who is subject to a consequential ancillary or special disqualification order is disqualified from holding a licence. Any foreign licence which would otherwise be recognised and have effect in the State, is not recognised.
A special disqualification order is effective immediately. A consequential ancillary disqualification order takes effect within 15 days being generally the appeal period. the court.
There are mandatory disqualification periods in respect of certain offences. In particular there are mandatory disqualifications for first and second offences for so called drunk driving, depending on the concentration of alcohol involved. In cases in excess of 150 mg per 100 ml of blood, there is a mandatory disqualification of three years for the first offence and six years for the second and subsequent offences. Below 80 mg over the legal limits, the disqualification is six months.
The mandatory disqualification order has been held constitutional notwithstanding that it is mandatory. This is notwithstanding that it removes the judge’s discretion. It has also been held that the offence is still a minor offence triable in the District Court (without a jury) notwithstanding that disqualification may have a very far-reaching effect for a particular defendant accused e.g. a person who drives for a living.
Capacity Based Disqualification
Special disqualification orders may arise where members of an Garda Siochana or appropriate authority have reasonable grounds to believe that a person who is a holder of a driving licence is by reason of disease, or physically or mentally in capacity unfit to drive a vehicle or vehicle of a particular class. They may apply to a judge of the District Court for removal of the licence.
More generally, all drivers over a certain age who must reapply for their licence after that age more regularly.
The Minister for Justice may specify certain diseases whether physical or mental by which a person is deemed automatically to be disqualified from holding any driving licence. These include dependence on psychotropic drugs and certain conditions involving possible loss of consciousness
A special disqualification order may be granted on foot of an application by a member of an Garda Siochana that the person concerned is unfit or incompetent to drive by reason of a physical or mental disability. The application is made to the District Court.
The judge if so satisfied may specify that the person is disqualified from driving a mechanically propelled vehicle or of a particular class or under the conditions specified unless and until he produces a certificate of fitness to the licensing authority.
Where the judge is satisfied the persons is incompetent to drive any mechanically propelled vehicle or those of such class as are specified in the application, he or she shall make the appropriate disqualification order until the person produces a certificate of competency to the licence authority
Similar provisions apply to provisional licences and visiting drivers permits.
The court may on application at its discretion postpone the commencement of the disqualification order for a period of up to 6 months where there is a special reason relating to the person’s circumstances including the nature of his employment which is proved to the court.
If a person brings an appeal against a disqualification order has entered a recognisance to prosecute the appeal pending the appeal, the order may be suspended and may be changed on the appeal.
In the case of a special disqualification order the court may direct that the order will be suspended pending an appeal. Where the appeal is withdrawn or determined against the applicant the disqualification takes effect thereafter or as the appeal court shall specify.
A disqualified person may apply to have a disqualification lifted before its expiry. This applies both in relation to automatic disqualifications and disqualifications orders made at the court’s discretion or because of capacity issues affecting the person concerned.
Generally the application is made to the District Court. The disqualification order imposed may be varied on an appeal to the Circuit Court or Court of Appeal.
Where the disqualification is for two years or more by law the application may be made after one year. The disqualification may be from a specified date no earlier than two thirds of the way through the disqualification. The application is made on notice to the superintendent of the Garda Siochana for the area person concerned resides.
If the court is satisfied that circumstances exist which justify removal of the disqualification, in particular having regard to the person’s character and conduct after conviction and the nature of the offence, the disqualification may be lifted. Consideration will be given to the applicants capacity to drive. The applicant may be ordered to pay the whole of the costs including that incurred by an Gardai.
The Road Safety Authority is notified of the variation of the order where it is of the type which is endorsed on the licence. The lifting of the suspension is noted. There is provision for appeal from a refusal to the court above generally the Circuit Court.
The European Convention on Driving Disqualifications allows for recognition of driving endorsements and disqualifications in Convention countries. Where by reason of the commission of an offence in another country, the driving disqualification is imposed and the authority of the state concerned, notifies the Minister in writing of the disqualification, the Minister is to transmit the notification and other documents to the licensing authority which is the one which would grant a license to that person.
An application to a judge, a licensing authority which has received a notice and other documents, subject to being satisfied of the matters may declare the person disqualified for the period specified. The judge may make an order that conduct for the disqualification does not constitute an offence or an offence for which disqualification may be imposed and may refuse to make an order in the above circumstances.
The disqualification period is not to exceed the maximum period of disqualification for which a person holding a license could be ordered by a court following conviction in the State for an equivalent offence. Periods of disqualification served in the other states shall be deducted.
Where a person who is normally reside in the State is disqualified in an another EU state of certain types of specified offence under the Convention, the relevant authority is to notify the Minister for Justice under the Convention.
The licensing authority is given notice and can apply to the judge designated to make an order declaring the person to be disqualified for the same period. It is not to exceed the maximum amount of disqualification that could be imposed in the State. The period served in the other state shall be deducted.
The order may not be made
- if the person has been disqualified in the state
- would have benefited from a general pardon or amnesty it the event took place in the State
- if the lapse of time between the offence and proceedings exceeded that applicable in Ireland
- if the judge considers the person did not have an adequate opportunity to defend herself in the proceedings
- the disqualification was imposed for something that is not an offence under the law of the State or is not an offence for which disqualification can be ordered
- less than one month remains expired
Where a a person who normally resides in another European Union state is disqualified in Ireland the Courts Service notifies the Minister for Justice who is to notify the central authority in the state of residence of the disqualified person. There are certain exceptions provided for in the relevant Conventions.