Driving Laws and how they affect you


Staying on the right side of the law will help you be a safer driver.
The rules of the road apply to all road users and you must have a satisfactory knowledge of these rules to get your driving licence. Understanding the rules is an ongoing process, whether you are learning to drive or have been a qualified driver for many years.  As laws change and new rules are introduced, it is your responsibility to keep your knowledge up to date. 

You must be at least 17 years old and the holder of valid Learner Permit before driver training is permitted and having passed your driving test and in possession of a full driving license you can now drive unaccompanied on public roads. 

Drive on the left-hand side of the road.  

Always carry your driving licence, vehicle registration document  and certificate of motor insurance. A minimum of third-party insurance is compulsory.

Be in control of your vehicle, drive with care and attention. There are certain actions that could get you prosecuted for careless driving. For example if you are snacking behind the wheel and do not have sufficient control of your vehicle. 

It is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving. If the Gardaí charge you with a mobile and driving offence, you will get a fixed charged notice of €60. If you pay the fixed charge you will get 3 penalty points. If you choose not to pay the fixed charge and are then convicted in court you will get 5 penalty points and a fine of up to €2,000. Read the RSA guide Mobile phones and Driving

Seat belts are compulsory for front and rear seat occupants. If seat belts are fitted they must be worn by both drivers and passengers. The driver has a responsibility to ensure that passengers under 17 are suitably restrained. If you are convicted in court for not wearing a seatbelt, 4 penalty points will be added to your licence and you will be liable for a fine of €2,000.

Children under 12 cannot travel in the front seats, unless using a suitable child seat and restraint. Rear-facing child restraints must not be used in seats protected by an active front air-bag and child restraints must be in accordance with EU or UN standards.

Babies and children under 3 may not travel in a car or goods vehicle (other than a taxi) unless they are appropriately restrained, irrespective of when the vehicle was registered.

This requirement applies to: 

  • Passenger vehicles that accommodate fewer than 8 people (excluding the driver)
  • Passenger vehicles that accommodate more than 8 passengers and have a gross vehicle weight of less than 3,500 kg
  • Goods vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight of less than 3,500 kg
  • All buses transporting children.

Smoking in your car while children are present or as a passenger is also illegal and has been since 2017.

Drinking and driving over the 0.08 per cent limit is illegal and could get you a prison sentence. Driving whilst taking prescription drugs such as Valium is also forbidden, and motorists found above the legal limit for drink or drugs will be taken to a Garda station and obliged to provide a blood sample.

Horns must not be used between 23:30 hrs and 07:00 hrs unless it’s an emergency, according to the RSA rules of the road.

Splashing a pedestrian is also illegal and drivers can be prosecuted under the 1988 Road Traffic Act in a section which covers selfish or aggressive behaviour on the road.

In poor daytime visibility you must drive with dipped headlights.

Parking regulations are strictly enforced. On the spot fines are issued for parking offences. Ensure you an official receipt is issued to you by the officer collecting the fine. 

You can drop people off or pick up on a single yellow line but under no circumstances should the driver get out of the car as it is illegal to park on a yellow line.

Parking meters operate in city centres and disk parking operates outside the central zone in Dublin and in some suburbs. 

You can be charged with an offence if you do not pay your toll charges. Read more Tips on tolls – be prepared

This is by no means a complete list, please see the RSA guide Rules of the Road The Official Irish Rule Book for more comprehensive information.