Monday 19 August 2019

Woman hit with €22,000 fine was sent 1,300 letters for 446 unpaid M50 tolls, court told

On average 136,000 vehicles use the tolled section of the M50 every day. Photo: Arthur Carron
On average 136,000 vehicles use the tolled section of the M50 every day. Photo: Arthur Carron

Tom Tuite

A Dublin woman has been fined €22,000 for unpaid M50 tolls.

Nicole Spellman, with an address at Kilcarrig Green, Fettercairn, Tallaght, had 446 unpaid M50 tolls, Dublin District Court heard today.

Judge Anthony Halpin was told some 1,300 letters were sent to Ms Spellman in relation to the tolls.

No payments were made.

Ms Spellman was one of ten motorists accused of dodging M50 tolls.

Another motorist who allegedly used Ireland’s busiest motorway 800 times without paying had a bench warrant issued for his arrest after he failed to turn up to for his trial. He is contesting his case and has instructed a solicitor to defend him.

In all the prosecutions which resulted in the €97,000 in fines imposed earlier today, none of the motorists who had been summonsed came to court. Cases against them went ahead in their absence.

Judge Halpin imposed smaller fines on some motorists who made efforts to pay their tolls but said: “The people who disregard it totally are fined heaviest, they have no regard whatsoever”.

In one case he adjourned he granted legal aid and said this was due to the seriousness of the offence.

The barrier-free toll motorway is operated by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII). Judge Halpin said the authority was in charge of maintaining the roads and he warned, “If people want to use certain roads they have to pay; if they don’t, the penalties are quite high”.

Each case finalised featured five sample counts and photo evidence of how many times the defendants’ vehicles had been detected using the motorway without paying the charge.

The court heard the prosecution evidence showed the passage of the vehicles, mostly private cars, on the motorway on dates in May, August, October and November 2018, as well as proof of vehicle ownership at the time.

Vehicle owners were given six months to pay the fines as well up to €350 in prosecution costs.

Prosecuting counsel Thomas Rice BL said a TII official had certificates of ownership as well as images of the vehicles passing the toll gantry on the M50.

The court can impose fines of up to €5,000 per charge as well as a sentence of up to six months.

The court had heard it was TII’s policy to negotiate with defendants and some cases on the list were adjourned.

The registered owner of a vehicle is responsible even if they were not driving the vehicle.

The standard M50 toll for an unregistered private car is €3.10 must be paid before 8pm the following day or else there is a €3.00 penalty for having missed the deadline. Motorists have 14 days from the date of issue to pay for the journey and the initial penalty; otherwise a further penalty of €41 is applied. After a further 56 days there is an additional penalty charge of €103 and if it remains unpaid legal proceedings follow with the possibility of a court fine of up to €5,000 as well as a jail term of six-months, or both, per offence.

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