Sheriffs seize luxury cars in crackdown on M50 toll dodgers
Sheriffs have seized luxury motors including BMWs, Audis and Mercedes after their owners repeatedly failed to pay tolls on Dublin's M50.
New figures from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), which operates the country's busiest road, show that 170 vehicles have been seized to date, 65 last year alone, in a crackdown on offenders.
Some 49.9 million trips were made on the M50 last year, with €120m collected in tolls.
The roads agency said one serial offender had to make a payment of more than €16,000 after making more than 1,200 trips on the toll road without paying, and had their vehicle seized on foot of a civil judgment.
"While we are pleased that the overall compliance rate on the toll road has been stable and has marginally improved in the past couple of years to over 97pc, there still remains a very small minority of motorists who use the toll road on a regular basis - in some cases three to four times a day - without paying," a TII spokesman said.
"These people are needlessly ending up in court and putting themselves at risk of incurring a criminal conviction, or having the debt registered against them as well as having their vehicle seized by the sheriff. We are urging these people to contact eFlow in order to resolve their case."
In one case last year, a motorist had to pay a district court claim notice for €12,167. In another, a driver had to clear a civil debt registered against them by TII in order to obtain a bank loan.
Earlier this year, a 2007 registered Skoda was seized and the defendant had to pay more than €15,000 when they refused to engage and deal with the matter. TII said the defendant thought that by 'refusing service' of legal proceedings they would avoid prosecution, but following an application through the courts, the legal proceedings were duly served and a decree was sent to the sheriff.
Motorists have three options to pay tolls. By registering with an account, motorists enjoy the cheapest rate of €2.10, and the money is deducted monthly from bank accounts. A second option is to have a video account, where tolls cost €2.60. The video account is kept with a minimum credit of €12, and the toll is deducted automatically.
The last option is to pay in cash in shops or online by 8pm the day after the trip is completed. However, if the bill is unpaid, a €3 penalty is added. If this is left unpaid for 14 days, €41 is added. If this is left unpaid for a further 56 days, €103 is added. The matter is finally referred to solicitors.
Among the luxury motors seized was a 2008 BMW X5 taken in the Castleknock area on foot of a decree obtained in the Courts for more than €12,000. The bill was paid in full. A 142 Nissan Juke was seized in Saggart on foot of a decree obtained in the courts for more than €13,000, which was again paid in full, as was a bill for more than €13,000 from the owner of a 2009 Mercedes Benz seized in Tallaght.
TII also said a 2012 Audi A6 was seized in Dublin 16 on foot of a decree obtained in the courts for more than €5,000. The defendant paid in full.