Learner and novice drivers reminded of lower penalty point threshold

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are reminding learner and novice drivers that if they receive seven penalty points in a three-year period they face disqualification from driving for six months.

This is compared to fully licenced drivers who are subject to a threshold of 12 points in three years before they face a six-month disqualification.

Learner and novice drivers must display ‘L’ and ‘N’ plates at all times. Failure to do so will result in two penalty points and a €60 fine.

Learner drivers detected driving unaccompanied not only face two penalty points and an €80 fine, the vehicle can also be seized. If the driver is not the owner, the car is liable to be seized, and the owner is also subject to a fine of up to €1,000.

According to Garda figures, a total of 6,460 penalty points notices were issued to learner and novice drivers in 2021 relating to the non-display of ‘L’ and ‘N’ plates and for driving unaccompanied.

The most common penalty point offence for learners is driving unaccompanied, with 4,047 notices issued for this offence.

This is followed by non-display of ‘L’ plates by drivers and motorcyclists (1,827). Meanwhile, 586 penalty point notice were issued to novice drivers and motorcycle riders for non-display of an ‘N’ plate so far this year.

Sam Waide, RSA chief executive said: “If you are a learner or novice driver and you accumulate seven penalty points in a three-year period, you’ll face a 6-month driving ban which will have real consequences – no driving to college, work, sports training or social events with friends, coupled with risk of higher insurance costs.

“I want to remind learner drivers that a learner permit is not a licence. Learner drivers have not demonstrated they are competent drivers until they have passed a driving test.

“Therefore, as inexperienced and unqualified drivers, they must always display ‘L’ plates and be accompanied by a fully licenced driver, other than a novice driver. Once you pass the test you are still inexperienced and at risk, that is why you must display ‘N’ plates for two years and are still subject to a lower penalty point threshold of seven points.”