PENALTY POINTS LOOPHOLE NOW CLOSED
In 2006, a new system of Fixed Charge Notices for a wide range of driving offences was introduced in Ireland. Where a driver was found by the Gardai to have committed certain driving offences, such as speeding, not wearing a seatbelt or holding a mobile phone, they could avoid Court by paying a fixed charge. They would also have penalty points applied to their licence. Typically, where a driver paid the fixed charge of 80.00euro within 28 days or an increased amount if paid within a further 28 days, they could avoid a Court appearance. If they did not pay within the 56 day period, a Summons for the Offence would issue summoning the driver to the local District Court for the area in which the offence was committed. On conviction, offences that carried 3 penalty points under the fixed charge notice system attracted an increased 5 penalty points and usually an increased fine.
The Gardai or Speed Van operators do not send these by registered post. Many of you will have read and heard anecdotal evidence of drivers avoiding a fine and penalty points where they convinced the Court that they never received the Fixed Penalty Notice. As a result, thousands of Summons in District Courts around the Country are struck out on a weekly basis. This means that not only do those drivers avoid a conviction, they also avoided receiving any penalty points whatsoever or any fine.
Road Traffic Act, 2016
This has changed since the 1st June 2017. Section 27 of the Road Traffic Act, 2016 which was commenced on that date, essentially closes this “legal loophole”. The Section provides for a “Third payment option”. Essentially, where a Driver doesn’t pay a fixed charge notice, for whatever reason, within 28 days or a further 28 days at the increased level, they will have a third payment option of paying twice the amount of the original fixed charge no later than 7 days before they were due in Court on the Summons.
This will effectively prevent drivers from relying on the Defence that they never received the fixed charged notice because Summonses are served either by personal delivery or by recorded registered post whereas fixed penalty notices are not.
If you have received a summons to Court for a Motoring offence, you can contact Niall J. Moran Solicitors at 057 93 24741 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org