Road Safety Authority

Following on from the Circular RSA VI 07/09 issued by the Road Safety Authority on 21st. July 2009, in which they erroneously stated ‘campers, camper vans, and motor homes are subject to roadworthiness testing under S.I. No. 771 of 2004………………..’ it was only a matter of time before some unfortunate owner of a ‘motor caravan’ without a valid Certificate of Roadworthiness ended up in court.

On the 27/06/2010 at Ballysimon Road in Limerick Garda Brian P O’Dwyer observed a ‘motor caravan’ being operated  ‘at that public place’ and required the owner to produce a certificate of roadworthiness in respect of the said vehicle within 10 days.

Following the failure of the owner to produce the certificate within the specified the D.P.P. issued a summons on the 22/11/2010 requiring the owner  to appear at the District Court in Limerick on 27/02/2011 to answer the allegation that:-
On the 27/06/2010 …….., being the owner of a vehicle to which the European Communities (Vehicle Testing) Regulations, 2004 applies, to whit Motor Vehicle registration number  xxxxx …………..did fail to produce a certificate of roadworthiness………………….contrary to Article 20 and 22 of the  European Communities (Vehicle Testing) Regulations, 2004.

At the above sitting of the court presided over by Judge Tom O’Donnell  the defending Solicitor  argued the case on the basis that there appeared to be a lacuna in the legislation governing vehicle roadworthiness testing and that the legislation in fact made no mention of  ‘motor caravans’ in the list of vehicles to which it applied. The Garda witness argued that the only vehicles exempt under the regulations were ‘vehicles used by the Defence Forces or the Garda Siochána.  After hearing argument on the issue from both sides and receiving supporting documentation from the defending Solicitor Judge Tom O’Donnell adjourned the case to the sitting of the court on 24/03/2011 in order that he could consider the merits of both sides arguments.

Today (24/03/2011) at the sitting of the District Court of Limerick Judge Tom O’Donnell told the defendant that, after giving consideration to the evidence presented,  the defendant had no case to answer and ordered that the summons be ‘struck out’.

It is now incumbent on the Road Safety Authority to pursue the adoption into law their proposals on the roadworthiness testing of ‘motor caravans’ as published on 22nd. November 2010, without undue delay.

The Road Safety Authority should also enable a simplified procedure for the issue of certificates. A system  which would  place a similar burden of compliance as exists for other Category M vehicles used for the carriage of passengers and comprising of no more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat (CARS).
It is not unreasonable to expect that the Pass Certificate issued by a Vehicle Test Network centre would be accepted at a National Car Test office and exchanged, free of charge, for an NCT Certificate and Disc and that the vehicle be included on the register of vehicles with a current valid roadworthiness test certificate. Such a procedure would facilitate the continuation of the renewal of Road Tax via the internet when internet renewal becomes contingent on having a valid roadworthiness certificate ‘on file’.
While, the physical size of some motor caravans would preclude them from being tested at an NCT centre and required them to attend a VTN centre, the owners should not be forced into the relatively cumbersome commercial goods vehicle procedures when renewing Road Tax.

— Colin McCarty

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