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New law to keep banned drivers off UK and Irish roads - Embargoed until 0001 Thursday 28 January 2010

New law to keep banned drivers off UK and Irish roads - Embargoed until 0001 Thursday 28 January 2010

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 27 January 2010

A new law to keep disqualified drivers off UK and Irish roads comes into force today.

As a result of a groundbreaking agreement between the British, Irish and Northern Ireland Ministers, UK drivers disqualified for serious motoring offences in Ireland will no longer escape punishment when they return home.

Similarly, disqualifications earned by Irish drivers while in the UK will be recognised and enforced when they return to Ireland.

Road Safety Minister Paul Clark said:

“We’ve cut the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40% since the mid-1990s – that’s more than 19,000 fewer deaths or serious injuries in a year and means we now have some of the safest roads in the world.

“But we need to continue to work to make our roads even safer and if a UK driver commits a serious offence while in Ireland it is right that their ban should still apply when they return home.

“From today this new law will ensure that disqualified drivers are not able to escape their punishment and so keep dangerous drivers off the roads.”

The new law is the first practical step to recognise driving disqualifications in Europe under the terms of the 1998 European Convention on driving disqualifications.

Notes to Editors

1. In 1998, the UK and Ireland along with all thirteen (at the time) other EU Member States of the European Union signed the 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.

2. 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 original 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.

3. 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. The Convention and therefore also today's agreement does not apply to disqualifications under the totting up of penalty points procedure.

4. The UK and Ireland implemented the necessary primary legislation to allow for ratification (in Great Britain through the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003, and in Ireland under the Road Traffic Act (2002). Both Ireland and the UK have made the relevant notification to the EU Council; legislation in Ireland and the UK must come into force 90 days after notification, i.e. 28 January 2010.

5. 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.

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