The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport sets national speed limits. There are five different types of speed limits and different limits apply to different types of roads throughout the country. If you are coming to Ireland for the first time or you are learning to drive, it is important for you to be aware of the speed limit on the roads.
Speed limits are expressed through distinctive road signs throughout the country that state the limit in each area. These signs are found on every motorway and on major roads and minor roads throughout Ireland and consist of a circular sign with a white background and a red border. The speed limit in kilometres is shown in the centre of the sign in black numerals (i.e. 30 kilometres per hour, 60, 80, etc.). Road distances and speed limits in Ireland are measured in kilometres.
The Irish police force (Garda Síochána) is responsible for enforcing road traffic legislation to ensure that citizens comply with speed limits. This means the Gardaí are responsible for detecting speeding offences and initiating proceedings by issuing fixed penalties to motorists who break speed limits.
An Garda Síochána has contracted the GoSafe consortium to operate safety cameras on their behalf. The safety cameras, operated by GoSafe staff have been on roads which have a history of collisions occurring where speed was a contributory factor. The cameras operate from vans which are marked with high visibility reflective material and display a safety camera symbol. Further information is available here.
There are a total of five different types of speed limits throughout Ireland:
A speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour is in place in built-up areas (other than motorways or special speed limit zones).
A speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour is in place on all national roads (including dual carriageways) throughout Ireland.
A speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour is in place on all regional and local roads (sometimes referred to as non-national roads).
A speed limit of 120 kilometres per hour is in place on all motorways. You should note that learner drivers, vehicles under 50 cc, bicycles, pedestrians, animals and invalid carriages are not allowed on motorways in Ireland.
Special speed limits are sometimes applied to designated roads and zones (mainly, for example, on roads on the outside of built-up areas, around schools, etc.). Special speed limits are generally for 30 km/h or 60 km/h. Local authorities in Ireland have the power to introduce bye-laws to set special speed limits in designated areas. Read more about powers of local authorities here.
Certain vehicles in Ireland (specifically vehicles that are intended or adapted for the carriage of people, vehicles greater than a certain weight and vehicles that are drawing trailers) are subject to different speed limits than those outlined above.
Speed limits do not apply in Ireland to ambulances, fire brigade services or Garda vehicles being used in the course of duty.
Further information regarding the various speed limits in place throughout Ireland is available on the Rules of the Road website (pdf).
It is an offence for anyone to use a speed meter detector in any vehicle in Ireland under the Road Traffic (Speed Meter Detectors) Regulations, 1991. Under this legislation, it is also an offence to import, fit and supply speed meter detectors and jammers.
The Gardai are empowered to seize this equipment if it is found in your vehicle or in your possession under the Customs Consolidation Act 1876.
Driving in excess of the speed limit will result in a fixed-charge fine of €80 for speeding offences. You will also automatically receive 3 penalty points on your driving licence. You have 28 days in which to pay your fixed-charge fine from the date the notice issues. Failure to pay the fixed charge will result in an increased fine of €120 and possibly more penalty points up to a maximum of 5 penalty points. If you were not the driver of the vehicle, you must complete the relevant section on the notice and return it within 28 days of its issue.
Further information on fixed-charge notices is available in our document on driving offences.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.