Car owners may face jail for allowing learners to drive unaccompanied

New measures will also seek to give gardaí the power to impound the vehicles

Car owners who allow learners to drive their vehicles unaccompanied could soon face prison time. 

The new measures, approved by Cabinet this morning, will see car owners facing six months in prison and a €2,000 fine for allowing learners to drive unsupervised.

The plan, brought forward by Transport Minister Shane Ross, will also seek to give gardaí the power to seize and impound vehicles on the spot where an unaccompanied learner is behind the wheel.

On Newstalk Breakfast, AA Ireland director Conor  Faughnan warned the laws will be difficult to enforce.

"I would have a concern that that might be a difficult law to get through in a robust manner that was constitutional because you are punishing me for another adult's deeds and I just think it might be a tough one to defend against inevitable legal challenge," he said.

"One thing that does attract me though is the idea of impounding the car - that is a proposal that may well have considerable teeth."

He said it is "absolutely demonstrably true" and "provable by any road data internationally" that it is unsafe for learner drivers to be on the road without accompaniment.

"You have not got a driving licences until you have passed a driving test," he said. "Until you have passed your driving test, you have no business being out on the roads on your own."

Road Safety Authority CEO Moyagh Murdock said the new rules are designed to target teenagers and those in their early 20s.

She said it takes at least 100,000km of driving to become experienced:

These people have mixed views on the proposals:

The move comes ahead of next week's Dáil debate on Minster Ross' planned mandatory drink-driving ban.

The plan which has seen opposition from a number of rural TDs will see anyone caught over the limit by any amount banned from driving for three months.