‘Double fine’ option for motorists materialises in new proposed legislation

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has published the general scheme of legislation to close a loophole that allows for fines and penalty points under the Road Traffic Act to be avoided.

The proposed new Summons Printing and Fixed Charge Notice Bill is a collaboration between Ms Fitzgerald, Transport Minister Shane Ross and their respective Departments.

Earlier this week, reports suggested the Government was considering offering motorists the option of paying a double fine as an alternative to appearing in court if they miss the deadline on a fixed charge notice.

At present, under the Road Traffic Act 2002, a person who does not pay within 56 days is served with a summons. At that point the person has no further payment option and must attend court.

However, persons regularly appear in court and state they did not receive the original notice, and many such cases are dismissed, meaning neither the fines nor the penalty points are applied.

The Courts Service of Ireland estimates around 7,500 cases are dismissed on these grounds every year.

The new legislation aims to address that loophole by creating a further payment option - double the original fixed amount - while upholding any penalty points concerned without taking up further court time.

Ms Fitzgerald said: “The Scheme published today will provide essential technical and administrative measures to allow for the introduction of a ‘third payment option’, to address a situation whereby some persons responsible for road traffic offences may not incur fines or penalty points for technical reasons.

“It will essentially restore fairness to the system. Both myself and Minister Ross are determined that road traffic offenders, who might otherwise avoid fines and penalty points for actual offences committed, are held to account.”

She added: “I also want to acknowledge the work of the former Minister, Paschal Donohoe, on this issue.”

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