Learner drivers: permits

The Road Safety Authority has received almost 200 reports of unlicensed driving instructors offering lessons to members of the public since the introduction of mandatory accreditation in April last year.

`There have been no prosecutions of 'rogue' instructors to date although the authority said it had refused applicants who had "unsatisfactory records".

A further 120 also voluntarily withdrew an application, suggesting the requirements of the licensing process discouraged some prospective candidates.

"Important criminal offences such as murder, manslaughter and sexual offences are taken into account when determining whether someone is a 'fit and proper' person to have their name entered on the register of approved driving instructors," a spokesman said.

"To date, two have been refused permission following a review by an independent appeals panel. One hundred and twenty have voluntarily withdrawn their application. Each application is currently dealt with on a case by case basis and risk assessment."

Under new rules, which took effect on 30 April 2010, learner drivers are entitled to ask to see their instructor's permit which should be displayed in the test vehicle.

They can also consult a list of RSA-approved instructors, and can contact the RSA or gardaí directly to report an unlicensed instructor.

The spokesman said it could be "difficult" to obtain satisfactory evidence to be able to bring about a prosecution. "To date, there have been no prosecutions but gardaí have issued warnings and recorded details of same on their system."

Under the 2010 road traffic act, offenders can face a fine of up to €5,000 and/or up to three months in prison.