In the early years of the two thousands I needed to sit a Driving Test. At the time the Dept of Transport had a monopoly on driving tests. The waiting list was about 6 months long. The Dept hada monopoly, and they knew it. It was illegal to drive without a licence, and of course insurance (which followed), so they could have the list as long as they wanted and no one could do anything.
They weren’t quite the only show in town, there were stories on the grapevine of people travelling to the UK (Northern Ireland) to sit driving tests there. They could then convert their UK licences to Irish ones in a simple quick process - although there were other stories that people actually kept their UK licences as that was a way of avoiding Irish penalty points. I love peoples ingenuity!
Well times move on and now aparently the waiting time for a driving test in Ireland is acceptable. Well, it must be, because you don’t hear about it anymore! At the time the Minsiter didn’t do or say much publically about the waiting list. Tests have since been farmed out to a QUANGO called the RSA, so should things get bad again he can say its “not my Dept”! This of course is why Ministers create QUANGOs.
Another QUANGO has recently begun enjoying its monopolistic position in Ireland. It is called the National Car Testing Service - or NCT (mental note: never put the word Service in the name of an organistion, it’s redundant.
Now from the tim of it’s introduction it has been mandatory to have, and of course display (a seperate legal concept), a valid NCT cert. However, the reality was that some drivers ignored the NCT and only got one when they were about to sell their car as not having an NCT decreased the price.
However, things changed on the 1st May 2009. On that date five new offences for which penalty points can be given were introduced. Those include failure to have an NCT certificate or failure to rectify a fault indentified by the NCT.
When this was announceda lot of motorists became very anxious and the NCT switchboard became jammed with enquiries, and their website went down.
Three of the new offences carry a maximum sanction of five points (too many for a what we term a “passive crime”), including failing to have an NCT up to date, an offence for which there is currently also a fine of €1,500.
The five new categories will bring to 42 the total number of penalty point offences under the system, which was introduced under the Road Traffic Act in 2002.
Now, the NCT always has a monopoly, but now that customers have to take the test, they have stopped issuing reminder letters. The NCT is run by a private sector company, and as we know from textbooks the first goal of a private sector company is make maximum profits.
My NCT disc expires next week, and I can’t get an appointment for six weeks, should I drive my car without a disc? Before if you did at least you could have aletter up your slieve showing a booking date, but now you don’t even have that.
Whats next? needing a tax clearance cert to get an NCT?