Penalty Points System
The penalty points system was introduced in 2002, and in 2006 fixed fines were brought in. Its aim was to improve driver behaviour and reduce the levels of death and serious injury on our roads. The legislation was amended in 2014, adding new offences and providing for stricter penalties in specific cases. The changes saw points for speeding, holding a mobile phone while driving, and not wearing a seat belt rise from two to three.
A penalty point is a formal reprimand by the Gardaí, endorsed on your driving licence record that shows you are guilty of a specific driving offence. They can be applied to both Irish drivers – with full licences and learner permits - and those with non-Irish driving licences driving in Ireland.
The Road Safety Authority lists the [offences](http://www.rsa.ie/Documents/Licensed Drivers/Penalty Points Offences 17 April 2016.pdf) that apply - 63 in all - along with details of the penalty points and fines each one attracts. The points can be reduced, and a court appearance avoided in many cases, if you pay a fixed fine within 28 or 56 days.
Penalty points show up on your driving record – although not on your actual licence - and can affect your insurance premium. In general, the nature of the offences – and, or the number of offences - that prompted the penalty points will determine whether or not at different rate is applied to your insurance premium.
How long do points count?
Penalty points remain on your driving record for 3 years. However, if your licence is out of date during this time, the clock stops, restarting only when you renew your licence. In exceptional circumstances, there may be grounds for cancellation. If you believe you have grounds, the Garda website has information on how to apply.
If a driver accumulates 12 penalty points within a three-year period, they're automatically disqualified from driving for 6 months. Drivers on a learner permit have a lower threshold of seven penalty points before disqualification. Once disqualified, you have to surrender your licence to the National Drivers Licence Service within 10 days. Once your six-month ban ends, the points that led to the disqualification will be removed.
If you happen to get penalty points, it’s important to notify your car insurance company. Honesty really is the best policy when looking for an insurance policy!