The Minister for Transport is seeking to hold car owners who give their vehicle to an unaccompanied learner driver criminally responsible for their actions under a proposed amendment to the existing Road Traffic legislation, writes Geraldine Wycherley, Solicitor.
It is currently illegal for learner drivers to drive unaccompanied by a fully licenced driver of at least two years. A fixed penalty notice is issued to the learner driver to pay a fine in the first instance, but if it goes unpaid and the individual is convicted in court of the offence three times in a twelve month period, the court can impose a prison sentence of up to three months.
The changes proposed, however, would go much further and would allow for the owner of the vehicle to face prosecution if a learner driver is found driving their car unaccompanied. The draft legislation states that a person found guilty of such an offence could ultimately be liable on conviction to six months imprisonment.
It is proposed that it would be a defence for the person to show that the vehicle was being used without his or her consent and that he or she had taken all reasonable precautions to prevent its being used.
The draft legislation is due to be debated at the Oireachtas committee on transport at the end of February.