Drivers still avoid penalty points with poor box donations
Published 04/07/2014 | 02:30
DISTRICT court judges are routinely failing to enforce the law, allowing motorists to escape penalty points, a new report by a road safety group has confirmed.
It confirmed that a large number of drivers are being allowed to donate to the court poor box in lieu of points, despite a High Court ruling that the charity boxes cannot be used as an alternative to imposing points and a fine.
Most drivers are also not being required to produce their licence in court, even though the law requires them to do so. As a result, points are not being recorded on their licence.
The report was compiled by members of the PARC (Promoting Awareness, Responsibility and Care on our Roads) group, who observed road traffic cases being dealt with in 13 courts around the country in April and May.
It was submitted to the Dail's spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, this week.
Although there has been anecdotal evidence that some judges were not enforcing these laws, the PARC report has gone a step further by confirming the problem exists in district courts throughout the country.
The report found none of the 13 courts enforced a law whereby they are required to record the details of drivers who fail to produce a licence so they can be prosecuted by gardai.
Only one defendant was informed on conviction that she had committed a criminal offence by not producing her licence and that she could be prosecuted as a result.
The PARC report also found that the vast majority of drivers who claim they did not receive fixed charge penalty notices in the post had their summonses dismissed, with many asked to make a donation to the poor box.
None of the defendants were told by a judge they would incur points or double points on their licence as a result of ending up in court after failing to pay fines.
It also said there was inconsistency in the application of penalty points for speeding. In many cases observed, no request was made for a licence to be produced so it could be endorsed. Summonses are only issued to drivers to appear in court when they fail to pay fixed charge penalty notice fines after being given two opportunities to do so.
At one district court in the south of the country, the report states that on April 15 motorists were not asked to hand up their licences, nor were they asked for their licences on conviction for penalty point offences by the judge.
On the same day at a district court in the south east, five out of six drivers convicted of speeding failed to produce their licences and there was no request by the judge for them to do so on conviction.
Also on April 15, at a district court in the north east, nine drivers appeared on speeding summonses.
One made an error filling out the fixed charge form and had their case dismissed.