Irish to introduce British style biometric ID driving licence *

Irish Times
28.12.2009
DAVID LABANYI

Dempsey to bring in microchip driving licence

A NEW credit card-style driving licence containing a chip that holds information about the driver is to be introduced over the next year or so, according to Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey.

He said the Road Safety Authority was examining how this could be achieved.

“There is work ongoing on this, and I am looking at trying, within the next 12 to 18 months, to introduce the plastic credit card-type licence with a microchip,” he told The Irish Times.

The cards will hold a photo; the driver’s name, address, date of birth, class of licence, and details of the issuing authority. It will also carry a record of any penalty points on the driver’s record.

Mr Dempsey suggested the issuing of licences might be centralised into one licensing authority in a further effort to improve security.

“If you want to tighten up security, do you maintain the system where licences are issued by 33 or 34 local authorities around the country or do you move to a system that is centralised and has a very tight control on the cards that are issued and that all of the data is contained in one place?

“I strongly believe we need to introduce the card and streamline the system to make it more secure,” he said.

The changes are part of a European project to introduce a credit card-style driving licence by the start of 2013 to assist cross-border policing of motoring offences. These will be mutually recognised by member states.

Mr Dempsey said he wants to introduce the system “well before that deadline”.

The new cards will have the capacity to carry a thumbprint or an eyeprint if the EU decides to introduce biometric security features, Mr Dempsey added.

The Republic and Northern Ireland aim to mutually recognise driving disqualifications for reckless or dangerous driving, hit-and-runs, drink-driving and speeding from early next year.

Ministers in both jurisdictions are also working on a way to apply penalty points to holders of a licence issued outside the country where the offence took place, although this is a longer-term project.

Mr Dempsey also said he would look at incorporating the new licences with a social welfare card where appropriate. “I am also interested in whether or not we can include information about whether people want to be organ donors, although there are complications with that,” he said.

Full article

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