Dáil Éireann - Volume 515 - 07 March, 2000

Written Answers. - Traffic Offences.

50. Mr. McGahon asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the widespread practice of motorists using a telephone while driving; the number of persons charged with this offence in each of [1503] the years from 1997 to 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6672/00]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): I am informed by the Garda authorities that, under the current road traffic legislation, there is no specific offence of driving while using a mobile telephone. Furthermore, I am informed that there are no statistics in relation to the number of prosecutions for using a mobile phone while driving. The question of the introduction of legislation banning mobile telephone use while driving is a matter for the Minister for the Environment and Local Government who is responsible for all road traffic legislation.

I understand the Garda authorities have been advised by the Director of Public Prosecutions that the use of a mobile telephone by a driver does not, on its own, constitute an offence under the Road Traffic Acts, 1961, as amended. If, however, such use causes a driver to do anything which could be regarded as dangerous or careless, a charge of dangerous or careless driving could be brought against the motorist.