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Proposed learner driver penalties that could see parents jailed 'utterly disproportionate and unworkable'

Irish Mirror logoIrish Mirror 14/02/2018 Brynmor Pattison
Learner driver Learner driver

Motorists who allow learner drivers behind the wheel of their car could face a €2,000 fine or even jail time.

New laws agreed by the Cabinet yesterday could mean that parents who allow their children to drive their cars would be slapped with a hefty fine or six months in prison.

The Road Traffic Act is set to be amended to allow for the increased fines and to allow gardai to seize vehicles, including farmyard and commercial vehicles.

At the moment, learners must be accompanied by full licence holders or else face a fine of up to €1,000, with no punishment for the car owner.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, to immediately suspend the proposals, which would "generate massive amounts of resentment in rural Ireland in particular".

Drivers will need a full licence © Getty Drivers will need a full licence

He added that the "proposal is utterly disproportionate" and said: "If Minister Ross is seriously suggesting a new regime whereby critical farm yard vehicles can be confiscated and the farmer can be jailed then he has truly gone off the deep end in terms of a detachment from rural life.

"How does the Minister intend to put this bizarre proposal into practice? It is completely unworkable and has the potential to ruin farm and working families that are barely surviving as it is.

"For many rural TDs this smacks of yet another hair-brained Cabinet initiative that reflects the absolute and increasing rural/urban divide at the heart of this government.

"Telling farmers that that they can potentially be jailed or that they will have their machinery seized for allowing a son or daughter to drive a tractor across the yard is incredible nonsense.

Drivers could face huge fines © Getty Drivers could face huge fines

"What I am proposing is that we find a more proportionate and effective response to the critical and important issue of road safety that does not involve the excessive penalisation of one distinct element of the community, such as farmers and self employed people."

Transport Minister Shane Ross put forward the new proposals following a tragic accident that claimed the lives of a mother and daughter in 2015.

Geraldine Clancy and her daughter Louise died after their car was involved in a collision with a learner driver who was driving unaccompanied in Cork.

The new Road Traffic Bill will move to the committee stage in the Oireachtas in a few weeks.

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