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Disqualified drivers targeted in international agreement

Thursday, 26 June 2008

A deal to keep disqualified drivers off the roads was confirmed today by British, Irish and Northern Ireland Ministers at a meeting in Belfast.

The agreement - the first practical step of its kind in Europe - means that UK drivers disqualified for an offence in Ireland will no longer escape that punishment when they return home. Likewise, any disqualification earned by Irish drivers while in the UK will be recognised and enforced when they return to Ireland.

Northern Ireland Environment Minister, Sammy Wilson, welcomed the progress made in reaching the agreement. He said:

“I believe this will deal with the worst offenders who think that they can disregard the law without consequence when driving outside their own state.”

Jim Fitzpatrick, British Road Safety Minister, said:

"If a UK driver commits a serious offence like dangerous driving while in Ireland their ban should still apply when they return home.

"This pioneering agreement will make our roads safer by ensuring disqualified drivers are not able to escape their punishment and so keep dangerous drivers off our roads."

Noel Dempsey, the Irish Minister for Transport said:

“This deal on the mutual recognition of disqualified drivers across all three jurisdictions is good news for road users. All three Governments are working hard to save lives on our roads and this deal will be a very welcome addition to that work. Now disqualified drivers will be kept off the roads in Ireland and the UK and that makes real road safety sense. I look forward to continuing cooperation of this kind with my colleagues in the UK.”

The agreement is the first to be drawn up under the terms of the 1998 European Convention on driving disqualifications and should see mutual recognition of disqualifications between the three administrations in place by Spring 2009.

The feasibility of mutual recognition of penalty points between the UK and Ireland has also been investigated and the three administrations are now committed to working towards penalty point recognition in the future. This will require primary legislation.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The agreement will be within the framework established by the 1998 Convention on Driving Disqualifications. We believe that this will be the first such instance of international cooperation within that framework.
  2. In 1998, the UK and Ireland along with all thirteen (at the time) other EU Member States of the European Union signed the international Convention on driving disqualification (98/C 216/01). The Convention intends to ensure that drivers disqualified from driving in a Member State other than their normal place of residence should not, on their return home, escape the consequences of that disqualification.
  3. The Convention provides for six agreed kinds of conduct which will be internationally recognised for the purposes of driving disqualification. The Convention automatically comes into force across all Member States only when all signatory States have ratified it. However, the Convention allows one EU Member State to recognise another's driving disqualifications before all Member States have ratified.
  4. The agreed behaviours covered by the 1998 Convention include: reckless or dangerous driving; hit-and-run driving; driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs; speeding; and driving whilst disqualified. Today’s agreement does not apply to disqualifications under the totting up of the penalty points procedure.
  5. The UK and Ireland have already implemented the necessary primary legislation to allow for ratification (in the UK through the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003, and in Ireland under the Road Traffic Act 2002).
  6. Mutual recognition of driving disqualification came into effect between Britain and Northern Ireland on 11 October 2004 and was extended to include the Isle of Man on 23 May 2005.
  7. For media enquiries please contact DOE Press Office 028 9054 0014 or out of office hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.