Consultation Launches On Proposed Careless Driving Offences

A public consultation has been launched on a proposal to make careless driving a fixed penalty notice offence.

The consultation paper will also invite views on the introduction of Operation SNAP in Northern Ireland. Operation SNAP enables members of the public to submit dash cam footage showing careless driving or riding. It is currently operated by a number of police forces across England and Wales with offences disposed of through either the offer of a driver improvement course or a fixed penalty.

Announcing the consultation, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: "As Minister for Infrastructure part of my responsibility is promoting and improving road safety. This is a responsibility I take very seriously. I have made it clear that I take a zero tolerance approach to irresponsible behaviour on the roads and I am committed to working with partners to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries across our roads network.

"Earlier this year I introduced legislation to tackle the damage caused by drink drivers and also those who continue to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving; I am keen to bring forward further legislation that will deter poor driving behaviours and help to support our colleagues in the criminal justice sector."
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Continuing, the Minister added: "I was shocked to learn that about 42% of all cases coming to our courts in Northern Ireland were for motoring offences including careless driving.

"I am committed to working with the Justice Minister and the PSNI to tackle this problem. The consultation that I am launching today seeks views on proposals to reduce the number of minor motoring offences coming before our courts, deflecting police and prosecution resources away from more serious and contested criminal issues. It is so important that we work together to help our community as we recover from the dreadful damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The consultation proposes that the fixed penalty in Northern Ireland should be £100 and 3 penalty points for minor careless driving offences, with more serious offences still referred for consideration by the Courts."

The consultation paper will also consider the potential for the introduction of Operation SNAP in Northern Ireland. The submission of dash cam footage, obtained safely and appropriately, will provide an additional means for road traffic law enforcement here. However, legislative change will be required to make careless driving a fixed penalty offence.

The Minister added: "I recently discussed this issue with the Chief Constable. The actual timeline for introducing Operation SNAP in Northern Ireland will be for the PSNI to decide. For my part, I will ensure the legislative process moves forward as quickly as is possible."

The consultation will remain open until 18 January 2022.

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