Vehicle Specification

There are detailed provisions in respect of every aspect of vehicle construction or design, steering, reverse gearing, wings, safety glass, view of the road, windscreen wipers, mirrors, speedometer, audible warning device, silencer, means of preventing unauthorised driving in essential projections.

There are both domestic regulations and EU derived regulations on vehicle standards. The legislation has prescribed vehicle type approvals. In some circumstances special dispensations and permits may be available. The general penalty applies in respect of contravention of the provisions.

Regulations may  make requirements in respect of vehicles for the protection of the environment, persons or animals from damage, disease or discomfort caused by emissions or excessive traffic noise. There are detailed provisions which specify the weight, length, height, size, construction and equipment of motor vehicles.

Supply Offence

The Road Traffic Act 1968 provides that a person shall not supply or offer to supply a vehicle other than one which complies with requirements under the Road Traffic Act.  Under the legislation the Minister may issue certificates or type approval certificates for vehicles.  It is an offence to supply a vehicle unless the  requisite  certificate is in force for that type of vehicle.

It is an offence for a commercial dealer to supply or offer to supply a new or used vehicle trailer or semitrailer that does not comply with the regulations on construction, equipment and lighting. There is provision for the sale of defective vehicles to  dealers for repair of scrapping provided the relevant sale contract confirms the position. A person may not alter the vehicle so that it does not comply with the specifications in the regulations.

It is an offence for a commercial supplier including a manufacturer, importer, distributor, dealer to supply new or used vehicles, trailers, others which do not comply with the regulations. The offences created by the legislation are generally strict.

Notwithstanding that the vehicle is compliant with the regulations on construction equipment and use it may still be subject to proceedings as a public nuisance. It is subject to the general law and private nuisance.

It is an offence to supply a mechanically propelled vehicle to a person below the licensing age for that vehicle (16 or 17 years).

Non-Compliant Use

It is an offence to use a non-compliant vehicle in a public place. There are obligations on the driver  using a vehicle. These are in addition to the road traffic byelaws regulations/rules of the road. The owner of a vehicle used with his consent is equally liable.

It is an offence to use a vehicle in a public place which is defective. There are specific offences in respect of particular defects such as the absence of appropriate noise suppressors.

Vehicles which comply with vehicle type approvals under EU law are deemed compliant.  There are a number of penalty points.  There is provision for a general penalty.  Penalty points provisions also apply.

A vehicle may not be altered so as to comply.  The Department may issue certificates called approval certificates in respect of compliance. Special permits may be issued by the Minister permitting the use of particular vehicles which would otherwise contravene regulations regarding vehicle type construction etc.

Sale Issues

It is a warranty in any contract for the sale of a vehicle that it complies with the relevant regulations in relation to construction, use, and equipment and conforms to the prescribed requirements for the type of vehicle in respect of the type approval certificate in force. Exemptions may be allowed for.  Regulations prescribe the procedure for applications for type approvals, cancellations and modification, keeping of records etc.

Regulations may be made in relation to the importation, supply and fitting of vehicle parts.  It may require that importation takes place under a licence generally or in certain circumstances.  It may regulate the provision of fittings and the business of fitting and offering to fit parts of vehicles.  Regulations may apply to different classes of vehicle and apply in different terms


A vehicle must comply with  rules relating to the provision and maintenance.  It must be kept in good working order so that it is not a danger to the public.

A Vehicle must be maintained in good condition and use. There are detailed requirements for accessories and the state and condition of various things.

There are numerous detailed rules regarding maintenance of vehicle parts. There are, for example, detailed provisions in respect of performance of braking devices.

Defects must be remedied at an early date.  There are limited defences where defects arise from accidents or incidents and steps are taken to warn other vehicles.

Public Service Vehicles

There are additional requirements in respect of public service vehicles both small public service vehicles (less than 8 person)  and large public service vehicles ( buses et cetera). These additional requirements reflect the use of the vehicle by the public. Certain equipment is required.

There are specific provisions applying to small public service vehicles in addition to general regulations.  They include provisions on required equipment and restrictions on the  number of passengers.

Further more detailed provisions apply in respect of larger public service vehicles.  They apply to matters such as height, guardrails, fuel tanks, access to exit, steering, stability, suspension, clearance, electrical, driver’s accommodation, markings.  There are exemptions for certain vehicles.

There are requirements for access to and egress from the bus for passengers. There must be an emergency exit. Exits and entrances must be of certain dimensions. They require specified safety equipment including fire extinguisher and first-aid material meeting certain requirements.

It is an offence to have an excessive number of passengers relative to the vehicle. The number of passengers is reduced by a third if there are at least three children under 15 or if a bus vehicle is used exclusively for the carriage of customers who are children going to or from school or school activities.


A pedal cycle used in a public place must have a bell or other audible warning device.  Brakes are mandatory.

A pedal cycle and animal  drawn vehicle or other human propelled vehicles must not be used in a public place during lighting up hours  without the required light. There must be a front lamp and rear lamp complying with specified requirements.

There are also requirements in respect of animal propelled vehicles, hand propelled vehicles, detached trailers.


Important Notice! This website is provided for informational purposes only! It is a fundamental condition of the use of this website that no liability is accepted for any loss or damage caused by reason of any error, omission, or misstatement in its contents. 

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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