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5,000 speeding cases fail because of summonses


Patrick O'Donovan

Patrick O'Donovan

Patrick O'Donovan

More than 5,000 motorists facing speeding charges had their cases struck out earlier this year because summons were not served by gardaí.

The cases fell over a three-month period, according to data released by the Department of Justice.

As a result, the motorists involved not only avoided a conviction, but also the penalty points that would have been applied to their licences.

The data, released in response to a parliamentary question by Fine Gael TD Patrick O'Donovan, showed that 5,285 cases were struck out in district courts around the country between January and March on the basis that the summonses were never served by gardaí.

The disclosure comes just a day after the Irish Independent revealed how up to 350 motorists a week have been using a legal loophole to try to dodge points by failing to produce their licence in court.

Mr O'Donovan, a member of the Oireachtas Transport Committee, called for urgent action on both issues.

"The loopholes are nearly so big now that you could drive an articulated lorry through them," he said.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said there were several reasons why summons had not been served by gardaí.

These included motorists providing false or misleading addresses and "occasions where defendants will actively seek to evade summons service".

The minister added: "Locations that have a transient population, a seasonal population or numerous rental properties can cause difficulties in locating the defendant for the service of the summons."

Of the speeding cases that fell due to summonses not being served, 1,015 were in Dublin, 599 in Cork, 358 in Galway and 333 in Limerick.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe admitted the numbers of people who were seeking to avoid being penalised for bad driving was worrying.

"There's an unacceptable level of avoidance going on in relation to people who have been prosecuted for dangerous driving and who get to court with the prospect of losing their licence," he said.

Mr Donohoe said motorists who had avoided penalty points by not producing their licence in court would now face the prospect of having the points attached to their licence retrospectively.

The minister also welcomed a planned garda operation that will see motorists prosecuted if they fail to produce their licence in court.

Ms Fitzgerald also promised firm action.

"It is essential that our road traffic laws are both respected and enforced," she said.

"Enforcement and prosecution of offences in this area is critical to public safety and to reducing deaths on our roads.

"There must be no way out for anybody."

Irish Independent