The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are reminding learner and novice drivers that if they receive 7 penalty points in a 3-year period they face disqualification from driving for 6 months. This is compared to fully licenced drivers who are subject to a threshold of 12 points in 3 years before they face a six-month disqualification.
Learner and novice drivers must display ‘L’ and ‘N’ plates at all times. Failure to do so will result in 2 penalty points and a €60 fine. Learner drivers detected driving unaccompanied not only face 2 penalty points and an €80 fine the vehicle can also be seized. If the driver is not the owner, the car is liable to be seized, and the owner is also subject to a fine of up to €1000.
A total of 6,460 penalty points notices were issued to learner and novice drivers in 2021 relating to the non-display of ‘L’ and ‘N’ plates and for driving unaccompanied. The most common penalty point offence for learners is driving unaccompanied. 4,047 notices were issued to learner drivers for this offence. This is followed by non-display of ‘L’ plates by drivers and motorcyclists (1,827). Meanwhile, 586 penalty point notice were issued to novice drivers and motorcycle riders for non-display of an ‘N’ plate so far this year.
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton said: “The graduated driving licence system was introduced to keep our most inexperienced drivers safe while they learn to drive. Learner and novice drivers are subject to certain restrictions to keep themselves and others safe, until they become better, safer drivers. One restriction is a lower penalty point threshold and I welcome this campaign from the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Siochana which is designed to remind them that should they accumulate seven penalty points in a three year period, they face six month disqualification. I would urge learner and novice drivers to make sure they are aware of their responsibility to ensure safer roads for all road users.”
Sam Waide, CEO, Road Safety Authority said: “If you are a learner or novice driver and you accumulate seven penalty points in a three-year period, you’ll face a 6-month driving ban which will have real consequences – no driving to college, work, sports training or social events with friends, coupled with risk of higher insurance costs. I want to remind learner drivers that a learner permit is not a licence. Learner drivers have not demonstrated they are competent drivers until they have passed a driving test. Therefore, as inexperienced and unqualified drivers, they must always display ‘L’ plates and be accompanied by a fully licenced driver, other than a novice driver. Once you pass the test you are still inexperienced and at risk, that is why you must display ‘N’ plates for two years and are still subject to a lower penalty point threshold of 7 points.”
Chief Superintendent Michael Hennebry, National Roads Policing Unit, An Garda Síochána said: “Today’s appeal is all about making our roads safer for all users. An Garda Síochána are actively enforcing learner and novice driver rules in order to protect all road users including inexperienced drivers driving on these permits. Working with the RSA, we have consistently raised awareness of these rules so there can be no excuse for non-compliance with the law. The majority of learner and novice permit holders are law abiding but we continue to detect drivers who take needless risks on the road.”
“For example, between January and April of 2022, An Garda Síochána has issued 2,302 Fixed Charged Notices to learner drivers for driving unaccompanied. There were also 1,323 vehicles seized under Section 41 of the RTA for unaccompanied learner drivers over the same period in 2022.”
Resources for Learner and Novice Drivers
The RSA’s website rsa.ie has information and resources to assist learner and novice drivers. This includes information on the rules and responsibilities they’re subject to when using the road. The RSA offers a one-stop information portal for learner drivers applying for their test – MyRoadSafety.ie – where information on how to access the driving test service and prepare for the test is available.
Ireland’s Road Safety Strategy
Ireland’s fifth government Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by 50% over the next 10 years. This means reducing deaths on Ireland’s roads annually from 144 to 72 or lower and reducing serious injuries from 1,259 to 630 or lower by 2030. The strategy is the first step in achieving the 2020 Programme for Government commitment of bringing Ireland to ‘Vision Zero’. This is to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by the year 2050.