The National Transport Authority is licensing authority for the purpose of the legislation. The Garda Síochána was licensing authority for the purpose of PSV (public service vehicle) licences for drivers until an order is made under the legislation transferring the licensing function.
It is an offence to provide small public service vehicle services without a licence. A person may not drive or use a vehicle in a public place for carriage of persons for reward without an SPSV driver’s licence which entitles him to do so. A person may not drive or use a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place for carriage of persons for reward without an SPSV vehicle licence. It is an offence to act as a dispatch operator unless duly licensed.
A person cannot ply or stand for hire in a mechanically propelled vehicle without an SPSV vehicle licence. Contravention of any of the above is an offence.
The Authority may make regulations in relation to licensing. Regulations regarding PSVs licensing are subject to consultation with the Garda Commissioner and the Advisory Committee. Different regulations may be set for
- different categories of licence,
- different categories of vehicles,
- different areas of the State.
It is an offence for a licence holder to give false information under the regulations to the licensing authority. It is an offence to operate or rent a vehicle contrary to conditions and restrictions contained in the licence.
Regulations may be made regarding assessment of applicants for the purpose of grant of a licence. Requirements and conditions to be specified with the regulations are provided for.
The Authority for the purpose of assessing an application for licence may authorise or approve a person with regard to their compliance with the level of competence prescribed by standards.
The Authority can request the Garda Commissioner to carry out an assessment at any time on a person’s suitability to be a licensee. A licence applicant must disclose particulars of his physical and mental capacity to hold a licence. Guidelines may be made by the Authority for this purpose.
The licensing authority may grant and renew licences on application in accordance with regulations. The application form, documentation required, information and fees are to be prescribed by the Authority. It is an offence to give false and misleading information in connection with an application.
Certain classes of licences including an PSV driver licence may only be granted to an individual. Certain other class of licences may be granted to a company. In the case of licences which may be held by a company, there is provision for change of control. This must be notified to the Authority.
A tax clearance certificate is required in relation to a licence application and must be submitted annually after that. A licensee must be suitable to hold the licence. The legislation provides for the considerations in assessing suitability by the licensing authority. A licensing authority may if it is satisfied that the person is no longer suitable, revoke a licence.
Prescribed considerations are to be followed and taking into account. A licence may be suspended for a period of up to six months. A licensee may be reprimanded, cautioned, warned or advised.
There is provision for due process in relation to revocation, suspension of licences etc. The licensing authority is to notify the holder, of the proposal and reasons. The same applies to the refusal of an application. It is to consider representations made. Subject to consideration of the representations, the authority may refuse, revoke a licence, suspend it etc.
The applicant or holder is to be notified in writing of the reasons for the proposed decision. Before the decision becomes final, the applicant may appeal to the District Court within 28 days. The appeal may vary the decision etc. and the decision remains suspended until the appeal is decided. A person may appeal to the District Court against a decision to issue a reprimand, warning, caution or advice above.
A licence may not be transferred. This is in contrast to the earlier position whereby licences for vehicles were transferred at significant premiums.
The Authority maintains a register of licences. It may be maintained in electronic form. A certificate may be issued of information in the licence on payment of a prescribed fee.
There is mandatory disqualification for life, if a person holding a licence is convicted of certain listed offences. In other cases, disqualification is for a set period. There is provision for disqualification from holding a licence on conviction for specified road traffic offence set, for an additional period of years as are specified.
Where a person is disqualified from holding a licence, an application shall not be considered, nor a licence granted, and any licence held stands revoked. A person disqualified may apply to an appropriate court to be allowed to apply for a licence or to continue to hold a licence.
The court may grant an application where it is satisfied that the person is a suitable person to hold or apply for a licence. The considerations are set out in the legislation. There is a 12- month period within which a person with a conviction, prior to commencement of the provision may make an application to court above.
There is an obligation on an applicant for licence to inform the licensing Authority of convictions of an offence specified and if so, on what date. It is an offence to breach this obligation. It is an offence in a prosecution that the person took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to comply with the obligation. A person failing to provide information or giving false and misleading information may be subject to a determination to refuse the application or to suspend or revoke a licence.
The legislation provides for a system of demerit offences. Certain specified offences under the Act are specified as demerit offences. There is provision for demerits to be endorsed on the licence record including in respect of fixed charge notices and payments for alleged offences. There is provision for a number of demerits to be entered on a licence in respect of conviction for a demerit offence.
Demerits on licence ordinarily remain in effect for three years and are removed. Once the threshold of demerits is reached, a disqualification of three months arises. At the end of the period of disqualification, all demerits endorsed are removed.