Monday, 13 April 2009

5 penalty points for an NCT memory lapse

From next month, motorists will face a fine and 5 penalty points on their licence if they don’t have an up-to-date NCT certificate.

While nobody could argue against the principle of keeping dangerously defective vehicles off the road, one wonders if the latest decree is not a bit over the top? Firstly, a vehicle that is late for its NCT is not necessarily a defective one. Secondly, as drivers no longer receive a reminder from the NCT people when their test is due, the chances are that many people will forget, and end up getting 5 penalty points for a memory lapse.

If the State is to issue so many points for a relatively trivial transgression, surely the least it can do is provide an automatic reminder – as is the case with motor tax renewals?

Otherwise people will be put off the road for no good reason... and what's the point of that?

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Ella said...

Hi GM, the point of it is to raise taxes. Mr Lenihan meant to announce it in the budget and "forgot". Expect lots of tax raising ventures to be announced from now on. Could a judge really prosecute somebody for having a memory lapse?

Bernd said...

In all fairness ... the "memory lapse" defence is a bit weak, considering that you have a reminder in tour windscreen (unless you are driving a newish car). Is there a "memory lapse" period of grace for insurance? Didn't think so ...

On the other hand ... yes, five points seems a bit steep here, especially as you get only three when your vehicle fails the NCT (at which point you KNOW it is illegal).

Mr Toys said...

Raising taxes is one thing... but it's the penalty points that are over the top. Surely there should be some sort of proportionality - the number of points should be relative to the safety impact of the transgression. Like, loads of points for dangerous driving or speeding is ok because those behaviours directly result in an increased risk of an accident. The same can't be said for forgetting to turn up for your NCT. Fine people, ok - but put them off the road? Not so sure!

Ella said...

Bernd, insurance companies ALWAYS but ALWAYS remind you when your insurance is due. I know the NCT shower remind you of the first NCT (when the car is 4 years old), but then when it's due again, at 6 years old, they don't. As I had been reminded about my first NCT, I assumed I would have been reminded about my second one, it was only when my neighbour pointed to the windscreen when it was about 6 months overdue that I realised! I immediately rectified the situation. I don't think I would have deserved a fine and 5 penalty points for what was a genuine oversight.

Mr Toys, dangerous driving should of course be rewarded with penalty points. Not so sure about the speeding though. Is it safe to drive 110km on the Clonee bypass in good road conditions when you have it all to yourself? Probably (even though the speed limit is 100km), is it safe to drive 80km down a twisty country lane, even when this is the legal speed limit, I would say most definitely NOT. Anyway it's not speeding that kills it's stopping in a hurry that does the damage!

pema said...

It's not about the reminder from the NTC it's really about looking at your windscreen. Nobody can be that forgetful, really. If the guards see it so can you.

Five points are actually very steep, but it's one of the helpless attempts for road safety which were so far pretty much beside the point (accidental pun). It seems that even those who are supposed to look after road safety, i.e. the guards, the respective officials etc., don't have a clou how to act or react.

For the guards, for example, it's easier to look at the windscreen discs than to check people with no driving skills whatsoever, lazy as they are (the guards). After all, it's people who cause accidents, not the cars as such.

Anyway, there is still, and for some time already, the 1500 Euro fine for driving without a valid NCT (or getting caught). So which hurts more? And has more impact?

The points are indeed pointless in regard of road safety.

The Gombeen Man said...

I'm the kind of bloke, Pema, that can rattle of my car's BHP, torque figures, top speed and 0-100kph - but I'd forget my tax, insurance and NCT renewals if they were tattooed to the most intimate part of my anatomy. I'd think of it eventually in the case of the NCT, but not necessarily on the day it expired.

I really can't see why they can't send out a simple reminder, as do the insurance companies and tax authorities (though this is only a courtesy and not legally binding - so people can't claim it got lost in the post). I think the NCT used to do this, so I don't think it's a big ask... especially given the new consequences.

Bernd said...

Yep, Gombeen Man, the NCTS used to send out reminders ... actually I got mine complete with a provisional booking in February 2009. Maybe they scrapped that in the meantime?

Sorry, can't accept Ella's "genuine oversight" defence - that would have to work for red lights, pedestrians on zebra crossings and other traffic offences as well then.

I know, different league and all ... but we have to remember that if you drive an older vehicle without NCT cert you are risking undetected major defects that might be as life-threatening as going 100 mph through Ballydung, at night and without lights.

I sound like Gay Byrne here ...

The Gombeen Man said...

Ha ha. I wasn't going to say it, Bernd!


Ella said...

Message for Gaybo, sorry Bernd. To err is human. Whatever you do, don't stand for office or go into the legal profession or we will all be doomed.

Ella said...

Hi GM, just heard a news item on the radio. Apparently the 5 points will "only" be applied to a licence if a person is convicted in a court for not having a valid nct. It's not automatic say in the way speeding is. Also it would appear that the first the NCT knew about this was when they saw in the Indo 2 days ago. NCT people, RSA and AA have been inundated with unhappy punters and people trying to get their nct in hurry.

The Gombeen Man said...

Now why am I not surprised by any of that, Ella?

Anonymous said...

Goodbye Fianna fail. I'm not giving my money to you morons for your road safety paranoia. You have destroyed this country with yet more Revenue generating laws. Time to get rid of penalty points.

The Gombeen Man said...

Hear hear.

Ella said...

Hi GM, just heard there that 48% of all cars fail the NCT on first sitting. MM, one has to wonder why that would be. Tax raising venture anyone?

Anonymous said...

"if you drive an older vehicle without NCT cert you are risking undetected major defects that might be as life-threatening as going 100 mph through Ballydung, at night and without lights."

Which surely makes it all the more important that they DO send out reminders ?

Ella said...

Hi Anonymous, but of course, so obvious, the older the car the more imperative it is that the NCT crowd send out reminders. But that would be in the interests of real road safety and could affect monies collected through taxes, sorry fines, and they would not want that, would they?

Anonymous said...

Sorry folks but you talk like the goverment are your masters and we are just their slaves. I sent this to the idiot minister for transport today. If enough people tell them where they stand they stop behaving like anarchists:
I have just learned that an NCT test has a waiting time of 3 months.

I have also learned that the Gardai have the power to charge you for not having a current nct certificate despite the fact that you are awaitng a test.

This is another expample of pure anarchy and needs to be addressed.

I will never vote for any political party that condones this type of injustice in what is a first world society. This would make Mugabe blush!

The Gombeen Man said...

Good point, Anon. Get on to Mr Dempsey, folks, and give him something to do!

Anonymous said...

Interesting that I got a reply !!!

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your email dated 27th April regarding new penalty points legislation.

I’m sure you will be aware that the new “Penalty Point” offences are already Road Traffic Offences. I am aware that there were difficulties in getting through to the NCT by phone or email following the announcement but I am informed this difficulty is now largely resolved.

It is also worth noting that the Gardaí have the discretion as to what to prosecute and when to prosecute. Unlike other penalty point offences these 5 have to be fully prosecuted and go to court i.e. they are not automatic like the speeding ones. A person gets full opportunity to defend their case and the decision is made by a Judge. I hope all reasonable people will see it as a further effort to increase the safety of the roads and to further reduce deaths.

In relation to the point that has been raised regarding being prosecuted and being brought to court, the Gardaí have made the following statement on the matter “Gardaí would advise motorists awaiting a NCT to carry proof of their test appointment to assist them in explain the situation should they be stopped by Gardaí.”

Since I made the announcement that the penalty points would be introduced for conviction for these offences, over 136,000 vehicles have been booked for NCT tests. Approximately 100,000 of these tests were for vehicles due an NCT by April 2009, that is, vehicles that should have undergone a test before the announcement was made. Of those 100,000 vehicles some 33,000 were ones that should have had a test in either 2008 or 2007. From this it is quite clear that many motorists were not taking their legal obligation seriously and were a potential danger to themselves and to other road users.

Yours sincerely,

Noel Dempsey T.D.
Minister for Transport