Road Traffic Law: Disqualification & Endorsements

A brief note on the different categories of Disqualification and Endorsements which apply in Irish road traffic law: Disqualification

Three types of disqualification are applied by the Irish Courts:

Consequential Disqualification: where an individual is disqualified as a consequence of a particular offence being committed. Examples of consequential disqualifications include those for drink driving and for driving without insurance offences.

Special Disqualification: where a member of An Garda Síochána or the appropriate licensing authority applies to the Court for disqualification where he/she believes a person to be unfit to drive a motor vehicle due to the physical/mental disability or evidence of incompetence to drive any vehicle or any class of vehicle.

Ancillary Disqualification: where a judge acts at his/her discretion to disqualify a person from driving for the commission of an offence for which consequential disqualification (above) does not apply.

Endorsement

An endorsement is a stamp placed on the licence of a defendant by the motor taxation office local to the defendant. The endorsement will generally remain for three years from the date of the stamp. A court may order an endorsement with or without a disqualification. Where a disqualification order has been made (with the exception of special disqualification), the Court will endorse the licence. Second or subsequent endorsements may lead to disqualification and may also lead to higher insurance premiums for the holder. holder.

Damache Case Update

In relation to the recent blog regarding the Damache v DPP [2012] decision and search warrants, as expected the effect on already decided cases will likely be minimal.

In DPP v Thomas Hughes [2012] (7 July 2012) a convicted person challenged his conviction on the basis that evidence used to convict him had been obtained under legislation which had subsequently been found unconstitutional in the Damache case.

The Court of Criminal Appeal rejected the applicant's appeal on the basis (amongst other reasons) that he had pleaded guilty during his trial. The State did not have to rely on the evidence which it had obtained by the means which were subsequently found unconstitutional.

This is in line with previous decisions such as the high profile decision of C.C. v Ireland [2006] where a convicted person sought to have the decision overturned following a subsequent finding that the legislation outlining the offence was inconsistent with the Constitution. The court found that as the accused had not sought to challenge the provision in his previous trial he was not entitled to rely on it at a later stage

Unconstitutional Search Warrant Leads to Quashed Conviction

A recent decision of the Supreme Court regarding certain search warrants has forced the government to introduce new legislation.

At issue was the constitutional protection afforded to the citizen's home under Article 40.5 of the Constitution. Article 40.5 states that: "The dwelling of every citizen is inviolable and shall not be forcibly entered save in accordance with the law.". The Supreme Court found that the legislation which allowed a Garda Superintendent to issue a search warrant under s.29 of the Offences Against the State Act 1939 was unconstitutional.

The Court stated that a high standard of independence was required of the person issuing a warrant to search a person's home. In the case of a member of An Garda Síochána issuing a warrant, this independence may not be guaranteed in some circumstances, for example where a person who issues the search warrant is conducting the same criminal investigation.

In this particular case, the Superintendent in charge of the investigation issued a warrant to search the home of a suspect. The Court held that at the Garda investigating the matter was not sufficiently independent to issue such a warrant. The proper person to issue the warrant was a person independent of the investigation authority, a district Court Judge for example.

The decision may have important implications for several cases currently before the courts where the same type of search warrant was issued and evidence was gathered during that search. Where criminal cases are fully concluded, it is likely that this decision will only be relevant where the convicted person challenged the search warrant during the original proceedings.

Damache Case Update

In relation to the recent blog regarding the Damache v DPP [2012] decision and search warrants, as expected the effect on already decided cases will likely be minimal.

In DPP v Thomas Hughes [2012] (7 July 2012) a convicted person challenged his conviction on the basis that evidence used to convict him had been obtained under legislation which had subsequently been found unconstitutional in the Damache case.

The Court of Criminal Appeal rejected the applicant's appeal on the basis (amongst other reasons) that he had pleaded guilty during his trial. The State did not have to rely on the evidence which it had obtained by the means which were subsequently found unconstitutional.

This is in line with previous decisions such as the high profile decision of C.C. v Ireland [2006] where a convicted person sought to have the decision overturned following a subsequent finding that the legislation outlining the offence was inconsistent with the Constitution. The court found that as the accused had not sought to challenge the provision in his previous trial he was not entitled to rely on it at a later stage

Note on the Common Travel Area

The High Court has recently stated that only UK nationals and Irish citizens may avail of the reduced border restrictions of the Common Travel Are. In practice this means that non-nationals travelling between Ireland and the UK, including the North of Ireland, may face difficulties returning to the South of Ireland

Often a person's right to remain in Ireland is conditional upon that person remaining within the State. This may become an issue where a person unwittingly crosses the border to the North of Ireland. On return to the South the person may be required to re-apply for permission to land or be in the State.

The case involved a Bolivian couple who had travelled to the North of Ireland onwards to Scotland and then to London. They had been given permission to remain in Ireland for one month from their first arrival in Dublin

The Court noted that there appears to be a common misconception that foreign nationals could also benefit from the Common Travel Area, which, according to the court, not the case. The couple were stopped by the UK authorities in Scotland and sought to deport them, they asked the Irish authorities whether they were entitled to re-enter Ireland which the Irish authorities said they were not.

The Court noted that the couple had probably made an innocent mistake.

5 pages