Tuesday 23 January 2018

Drivers can pay double fine and avoid court

Thousands of people escape convictions and penalty points by telling the judge they did not receive the original fixed-charge notice. Stock Image
Thousands of people escape convictions and penalty points by telling the judge they did not receive the original fixed-charge notice. Stock Image
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Motorists are to be given the option of paying a 'double fine' in return for avoiding a court appearance under plans being spearheaded by Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

The proposals, due to be approved at the final Cabinet meeting of 2016, are aimed at closing a loophole in the law that has resulted in thousands of road traffic cases being thrown out by judges.

At present, motorists who fail to pay a fine within 56 days of the offence are summoned to court. Prior to their court appearance, they are given two options to pay their fines. However, thousands of people escape convictions and penalty points by telling the judge they did not receive the original fixed-charge notice. The move to close the loophole was flagged in the summer but never made it to Cabinet.

But a memo being brought by Ms Fitzgerald today proposes introducing a new payment option which will permit motorists to avoid appearing in court in return for paying double the original fine.

"The early introduction of the 'third payment option' has strong policy and operational support," a Government source said.

Irish Independent

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