Fine defaulters can avoid prison by paying in instalments under new law
NEW legislation, which will allow unpaid fines to be collected through instalments, will shortly come into force.
It marks the end of defaulters being automatically sent to jail for failing to pay fines imposed by the courts.
The law has now been radically reformed under the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Bill, which was finally approved by the Oireachtas yesterday.
It will now be signed by President Michael D Higgins and become law.
It is expected that the courts will be able to accept instalment payments by late September.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said other provisions such as attachment orders, recovery orders and community service would kick in as soon as all of the arrangements had been sorted out, probably towards the end of the year or in early 2015.
"Today marks a historic day for the fines payment system in Ireland," he said. "For more than a century, you either paid a fine or went to prison in default," he added.
He pointed out that more than 8,000 people were jailed for the non-payment of fines last year and he was confident under the new system that number would be greatly reduced.
Imprisonment would only apply where it was not possible to make a community service order or the offender failed to comply. All fines over €100 can be paid by instalments.