New rules to enforce driving bans

Bans issued to drunk and reckless drivers across Great Britain and Ireland are to be properly enforced for the first time, ministers have announced.

The new ruling will come into force next year, tying up a legal loophole that allows drivers disqualified in the UK to drive legally in the Republic of Ireland and vice versa.

Ministers from the Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain also pledged to take action to introduce a system of mutual recognition for penalty points and other motoring offences.

While driving bans will be dealt with from March 2009, a joined-up approach on penalty points is not expected to be introduced for another four or five years due to the number of legal obstacles that need to be overcome.

Stormont environment minister Sammy Wilson said the joint agreement sent out a loud message to dangerous drivers. "We have agreed a timetable that by next spring there will be a mutual recognition of driver disqualifications between the UK and Ireland," he said.

"That means that any disqualifications for drink driving, reckless driving or careless driving in Ireland or in the UK will carry over to the other country, which is not the case at the moment."

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