Driving a Dangerously Defective Vehicle and Driving While Unfit

defective vehicle-dangerous driving

The offence of driving a dangerously defective vehicle is provided by section 54(2) of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 (as amended by the Road Traffic Act, 1968.

It provides

(2) Where a mechanically propelled vehicle is driven in a public place while there is a defect affecting the vehicle which the owner thereof knows of or could have discovered by the exercise of ordinary care and which is such that the vehicle is, when in motion, a danger to the public, such owner shall be guilty of an offence.

In a prosecution for this offence the defect must be proven. The defect must be one about which the owner had knowledge but this knowledge can be inferred in the circumstances.

The vehicle must be a danger to the public. Knowledge of this danger should be known to the defendant.

The penalties are as follows:

  1. A maximum fine of €2,000 and/or
  2. A maximum term of imprisonment of 3 months
  3. Disqualification.

A second or subsequent offence will lead to a mandatory disqualification.

Driving While Unfit

Driving while unfit is set out in section 48(1) of the Road Traffic Act, 1961.

48.—(1) A person shall not drive or attempt to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place when he is to his knowledge suffering from any disease or physical or mental disability which would be likely to cause the driving of the vehicle by him in a public place to be a source of danger to the public.

Whether an ‘attempt’ to drive is proven will depend on the circumstances of each case.

The prosecution must prove that a ‘danger to the public’ arose. This is an objective test and medical evidence would be important in determining this.

Penalties are

  1. A maximum fine of €1,000 and/or one month’s imprisonment
  2. A second or subsequent offence will lead to a maximum fine of €2,000 and/or 3 month’s imprisonment
  3. A second offence within 3 years will lead to a mandatory disqualification.