A new fixed penalty notice of £100 and three penalty points has been introduced to help tackle careless driving in Northern Ireland.
In 2021, 486 people were sadly killed or seriously injured as a result of collisions on our roads where the cause has been attributed to a careless driving causation factor. This reinforces the responsibility that we all have to drive carefully so that such life-changing and devastating consequences are avoided.
The move by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is seen as an important road safety development as the new fixed penalty will be an additional enforcement tool, to assist police in tackling a major cause of deaths and serious injuries on our roads.
It follows extensive consultation with the public and criminal justice bodies.
The new fixed penalty will improve the administrative process for the existing careless driving offence by providing proportionate justice for low level careless driving offences without the need for court proceedings, saving public money and time.
Drivers who commit more serious offences will continue to be dealt with before the courts and will be subject to substantial penalties.
New arrangements introduced today will also allow the Police Service of Northern Ireland to offer remedial training to careless drivers as an alternative to the fixed penalty notice. The aim is to influence the future decisions of drivers, encouraging more careful driving and improved personal responsibility. Costs associated with the course will be met by the offender as an alternative to receiving penalty points and paying the fixed penalty notice fine.
Dr Chris Hughes, DfI Director for Road Safety said:
“The introduction of a new fixed penalty for careless driving is an important intervention. It has the potential to make enforcement of this offence more effective and reduce the instances of careless driving in the future. It also sends a clear message to drivers that the risk of being caught and punished for a careless driving offence has now increased. A less bureaucratic system for lower level offending means police can spend less time preparing case files for court and more time on the road observing driving behaviours.”
PSNI Chief Superintendent Sam Donaldson said:
“We welcome the introduction of this new legislation which underlines our road safety messaging. Driving without care and attention, is one of the most significant causes of the most serious collisions in which people are killed and seriously injured on our roads. Where appropriate, the new penalty will give drivers the opportunity to benefit from remedial training. The training will not only highlight the catastrophic impact that can result from careless driving, but critically, it will give drivers the opportunity to educate themselves and make our roads safer for everyone.”
Notes to editors:
- Powers to enable the introduction of a careless driving fixed penalty notice can be viewed using the links below:
The Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty) (Offences) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2023
The Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2023
- The option to go to court is still retained should the offender wish to contest the offence.
- The maximum penalty which applies on conviction in court remains the same i.e. a fine of up to £5,000, between three and nine penalty points to the driver’s licence and, at the discretion of the court, potential disqualification.
- Remedial training operates at no cost to the public purse and ensures offenders are aware of the causes and negative consequences of risky and inconsiderate driving. The current cost of the remedial training course is £120.80.
- The new fixed penalty will be used to deliver proportionate justice for low level offending. More serious examples of careless driving will continue to be submitted to Public Prosecution Service for a decision as to prosecution or diversion.
- Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) provide an alternative to prosecution. If a person accepts the FPN and pays the fixed penalty within the stated date, then the offence will not be recorded as a criminal conviction. The law on fixed penalty offences does not enable the payment of the fixed penalty sum in instalments.
- The careless driving consultation ran from 23 November 2021 to 18 January 2022. A synopsis of responses was published on 10 March 2022.
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