THIS AMENDMENT, WHICH COMES INTO EFFECT ON SATURDAY 22 DECEMBER 2018, IS A VERY IMPORTANT ONE, WHICH WILL MARK A SIGNIFICANT STEP IN ADDRESSING THE DANGEROUS BEHAVIOUR OF LEARNER DRIVERS DRIVING UNACCOMPANIED.
Under regulations which came into effect in 2007, learner permit holders must be accompanied by a qualified driver. The consequences which can follow from inexperienced learners driving without an experienced qualified driver can be seen all too starkly in the case of Geraldine and Louise Clancy. This mother and daughter lost their lives when their car was struck by a car driven by an unaccompanied learner.
In the wake of this incident, the Government decided to take a tougher line on unaccompanied learner drivers. It was decided that it was time to look at the problem of owners who let unaccompanied learners drive their vehicles.
The owner of a vehicle which is driven by an unaccompanied learner, or by someone with no licence or learner permit, will now be held accountable.
The owner will have the option of a defence that the vehicle was taken or used without their consent, whether the case involves an unlicensed driver or an unaccompanied learner.
In a case where the driver was unlicensed, the owner has the option of a defence that they took all reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that the person was licensed.
Where the case involves an unaccompanied learner, the owner may offer a defence that they took all reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that the driver would be accompanied by a qualified driver.
The penalty for the owner has been set in consideration of the penalty already faced by an unaccompanied learner or an unlicensed driver. The penalty for owners is a class D fine, that is, a fine not exceeding €1,000. This will provide a strong deterrent and make those who would lend a car irresponsibly to an unaccompanied learner think more seriously about the consequences. Garda now have the Power to Detain Vehicles In conjunction with the Clancy Amendment, Section 41 of the Road Traffic Act 1994 allows gardaí to detain vehicles in certain circumstances. These include cases where the vehicle is untaxed or uninsured, or where the driver is unlicensed. An amendment to section 41 which will come into effect at the same time as the Clancy Amendment will enable gardaí to detain a vehicle driven by an unaccompanied learner. The vehicle will be taken to a pound and the owner can retrieve it on payment of a charge.