Defective Vehicle

It is an offence to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place where there is a defect it which the owner knows of or could have discovered by the exercise of ordinary care and which is such that the vehicle when in motion is a danger to the public. The owner may also commit an offence if he is not the driver, unless he proves that the driving on the occasion concerned was unauthorised.

The defect must be one which is known or should have been known to the owner.  It is a defence to show that the vehicle was driven without the authority of the owner.  The offence is subject to a fine of €1,500 or three months imprisonment or disqualification.  Disqualification is mandatory on a second or subsequent event within three years.  Endorsement on licence is mandatory.

A member of an Garda Siochana who suspects that a vehicle is defective such as to be a danger to the public or unfit in the case of a taxi for carriage of passengers may inspect and examine the vehicle.  They may do such things as are necessary to undertake the examination.

Generally, in the cases above, it is an offence to use the  vehicle in a public place until the requisite defect has been remedied.  It is a defence to show that the requisite defect is not such as to make it a danger to the public.


A Garda  may require the vehicle to be brought to a convenient place suitable for the examination and inspection within five miles by the shortest route.  He may drive the vehicle or require the person in charge to drive and bring it there.

Where  consequent on an examination and inspection, the member has reasonable grounds for believing that there is a defect which is a danger to the public, he may instruct the person in charge that it is not to be driven until the defect is remedied or require the person to submit it for further examination at a particular place and time, where he has reasonable grounds for believing that there is a defect which renders it unfit for carriage of  passengers.  In the case of a public service vehicle, he may require that it not be so used until the defect is remedied.

Where  a member of an Garda Siochana, consequent on an inspection has reasonable grounds for believing that there is a defect in a trailer or other  vehicle being drawn by a mechanically propelled vehicle, he may make requirements that it is not to be driven in a public place until the defect is remedied.

Members of an Garda Siochana have similar powers in respect of pedal cycles. A member of an Garda Siochana may test or make requirements in relation to  a pedal cycle for the purpose of test, and may make all such requirements as are reasonably necessary. It is an offence to use a bike in breach of such a requirement subject to a fine and summary conviction up to €2,000 euro and imprisonment up to three months.

Where a person is required to produce a vehicle above, he has the right to be present at the examination.  If he elects to so do, he must be afforded the opportunity to observe the examination.  He has the right to bring a further person with him to the examination who may also observe it.

Disease or Disability Causing Danger

It is an offence to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place when the driver to his knowledge suffering from a disease or physical or mental disability with which would be likely to cause the driving of the vehicle by him in the public place to be a source of danger to the public.  Danger to the public is objective having regard to the circumstances.  Medical evidence of incapacity would be important.

The offence is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €1000 or imprisonment up to one month for a first offence and a fine up to €2000 and imprisonment up to 3 months for subsequent offences. There are three penalty points. The court may apply an ancillary disqualification order on conviction.

Separately an application may be made for a special disqualification order in  independent proceedings. See the section on driving licence.

Disqualification is mandatory on a second or subsequent offence within three years of the first conviction.

Diminished Control

It is an offence to use a hand-held mobile phone or similar communications apparatus while driving a mechanically propelled vehicle.

A driver shall not drive when his power or control over the vehicle is diminished by reason of position of the vehicle or by reason of anything permanently or temporarily carried in the vehicle.  A passenger in a vehicle shall not wilfully obstruct or impede a driver without reasonable cause or interfere with the working of the vehicle or distract the driver’s attention.

A person shall not permit of a vehicle or trailer to be opened or to remain open unnecessarily or passengers to alight with the opening and remaining open if such is to cause a danger or obstruction.

Dangerous Parking & Obstruction

It is an offence to park a vehicle in a place where it is likely to cause danger to other persons using the place.  Parking includes leaving or keeping a vehicle stationary. The vehicle may be an obstruction such as to cause a danger.  It may so parked that the vehicle would be likely to cause danger to other persons using the place.

A member of an Garda Siochana may arrest a person who has committed an offence without warrant. First offence is subject to maximum fine of €800 and / or one month’s imprisonment.  First offence of dangerous parking during lighting up hours or a second or subsequent offence is subject to a fine of €1,500 and / or three months imprisonment.

Disqualification is optional for the first offence.  Disqualification is mandatory where a second or later offence is committed within three years if the offence involves a vehicle which does not comply with the lighting or vehicle regulation.  Five penalty points apply if no disqualification is imposed.

It is an offence to do any act by commission or omission which causes or is likely to cause traffic in a public place to be obstructed.It is a defence to show lawful authority for the act concerned or that it was due to unavoidable accident.

The rest of reasonableness may be applied in respect of a defence.  The general penalty applies.

Moving Vehicle

A person may not hold onto,  get on to or into a moving vehicle in a public place.  Breach is an offence.  The presence of a reasonable cause is a defence.

It is an offence for a cyclist to hold on to another vehicle other than a pedal bicycle which a no person is driving, which is in motion or to hold onto anything attached to the vehicle.

Vehicle Standards

There are both domestic regulations and EU derived regulations on vehicle standards. The legislation has prescribed vehicle type approvals. The general penalty applies in respect of contravention of the provisions.

It is an offence to use a vehicle in a public place while not in compliance with the regulations. The owner and user may be prosecuted. The vehicle must be maintained in good condition. The general penalty applies on conviction in the District Court.

Driving Hours

A person may not drive for

  • a continuous period of more than five-and-a-half hours.
  • a continuous period of driving amounting in aggregate to more than 11 hours in any 24-hour periods beginning two hours after midnight.

Periods of driving must be so arranged that the driver has at least 10 consecutive hours of rest in every 24-hour period.  The calculation of times are modified in certain cases.

Time spent by the driver of the vehicle at work other than driving in relation to the vehicle or the load carried, including in the case of a public service vehicle any time spent in any capacity other than as a driver or as passenger, are reckoned as time spent on driving.

Where a vehicle is being used in the course of agriculture or forestry operations, time spent driving or working on or in connection with the vehicle while it is not in a public road are not reckoned as time spent in driving.

If a person shall not drive or cause or allow person employed by him to drive for an excessive period, a large public service vehicle or vehicle intended or adopted solely for drawing another vehicle or is fitted with a body intended or adopted for the carriage of goods or two or more vehicles successively.

The Minister may make regulations including regulations providing for the keeping of records, production of records, exhibition of notices, modification of the regulations in respect of the specific classes of vehicles. Where the Minister is satisfied that bodies, representative of employers and employees are in favour of a change to the regulations, variations  may be made after consultation with the requisite parties. These  provisions are relevant only to journeys within the State, not covered by EU regulation.  See the separate EU regulations in respect of hours of driving, tachygraphs etc.


There are provisions in relation to prevention of noise.  A person may not use a vehicle which is excessively noisy as a result of a vehicle or fault.

It is mandatory to give audible warning devices i.e. horns etc. when required.  They are not permitted between 11:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. on the roads below certain speed limits.  There are exceptions where necessary to prevent immediate danger.  There are exemptions for the emergency service.

It is an offence to drive a vehicle in any race, speed trial or other competition on a public road or in a manner likely to induce competitors.  There are acceptance for permitted race trials and competitions with the consent of the local authority.  There are also exceptions for legitimate vehicle trials.

It is an offence to leave a vehicle unattended unless the engine is not running, the bonnet is closed and the doors are locked.  There are certain exceptions.

It is an offence to drive on a public road in any race speed trial or  competition other than one permitted by the local authority with closed roads.

A person shall not drive a vehicle in a public place where his power of control over the vehicle is seriously diminished for any reason, whether  by reason of intoxication, drugs, anything carried on the vehicle, the position a number of passengers in the vehicle or otherwise.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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