The daftness of driving bans

NEWS last week that a judge in Tallaght had restored a driving licence to a man with 61 driving convictions is a welcome return to common sense.

Yet in another case on the northside a man from Belcamp convicted of driving without licence and insurance, and of giving a false name to gardai, was given six months in jail and put off the roads for 50 years.

Such sentences seem to be issued through gritted teeth with little thought for the best outcome for the man in question or society in general.

This man will emerge from prison in three months or so with his job prospects severely diminished, in the first place by a criminal record, and secondly by the fact that he won’t be able to legally drive.

A huge amount of employment opportunities are reliant on a driving licence, either to commute to the job or to use on the job. If everyone convicted in connection with the misappropriate use of a car is banned from driving, then we are going to have a serious problem rehabilitating people with a criminal conviction.

And so to the case of our Tallaght man, who applied to the courts to have his licence restored even though he had built up 61 convictions. The judge remarked that bans over seven or eight years are ‘pointless’. Well said.

It would be much better if the courts took a pro-active attitude rather than slap on driving bans which then cause problems down the line. Perhaps the courts should order people to buy insurance, to do driving lessons until they get a licence, to be restricted just to driving to work and back and so on. The guy in Tallaght paid €1,200 in court expenses that could have help pay for his insurance.

It should be recognised that driving bans cause hardship for families, so that offenders, perhaps, should pay for lessons for their spouses rather than pay fines.

Perhaps we need a supervising agency to ensure that people convicted of driving offences mend their ways, are properly insured and licenced, and are able to contribute to their families, society and the economy.

In defence of drunk drivers 

NO columnist out for easy popularity and a cuddly interest group to lick up to would choose that odious collection of miscreants who have been convicted of driving while over the legal limit of alcohol.

So here goes.

I have no problem with drunk drivers being punished but I do have a problem with just who does (and benefits from) the punishing.

I’m thinking of the insurance industry. From what I have heard a driver paying, say €600, for insurance before a conviction will be paying €2,000 to €3,000 afterwards.

What I would like to see is the evidence that drunk drivers cause a proportional increase in accidents after their convictions that would warrant such an increase in their premiums.

Because I suspect that the insurance companies are cashing in on the odium that the public holds for drunk drivers. 

And you won’t see many people marching in their defence.