4,500 speeding fines thrown out since 2009

Conor Faughnan: Cameras help reduce road deaths.

Fines for almost 4,500 fixed camera speeding detections have been dismissed over the last six years, a third of them during 2014, it has emerged.

Figures released by the Department of Justice confirm that since the GoSafe camera campaign was introduced in 2009, 4,420 camera cases were thrown out in the courts.

In 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013, fewer than 600 cases had to be dismissed.

However, in 2012 936 were dismissed and, so far in 2014, judges did not convict in 1,393 cases.

Fine Gael Limerick TD Patrick O’Donovan asked Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald for details of the numbers of cases dismissed since the introduction of GoSafe due to motorists’ claims that they had not received notifications of speeding fines in the post.

Ms Fitzgerald said the courts service had told her it could not supply the reasons why a case was dismissed or extract cases recorded by GoSafe cameras from the overall camera offences figures.

Conor Faughnan of the AA said it was important to point out that cameras, as part of a suite of deterrent measures, were working, as road deaths had halved over the last 10 years.

However, he said this was not an excuse for inefficiencies that meant some drivers were prosecuted while others were not.

He said the AA had come across a number of reasons why prosecutions did not proceed, such as that the identity or ownership of the vehicle was disputed, or that the summons was sent to the wrong address.

Mr Faughnan said there were even cases where the license plate had been cloned and the fine was sent to the address of an innocent motorist. Mr Faughnan said there were a number of bureaucratic reasons which led to cases “vanishing into the ether”.

Last month, it emerged that three out of four people brought to court in the first seven months of this year for failing to pay a fixed charge penalty notice avoided conviction.

Figures from the Department of Justice showed 32,162 people were taken to court for not settling their fine within 56 days. However, only 7,977 of those received convictions.

Ms Fitzgerald said her department, in consultation with the Department of Transport, gardaí, and the courts service, was currently studying what arrangements are required to bring section 44 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 into effect.

That section would allow a person served with a summons for a fixed charge offence to have a final opportunity to pay the charge, of an amount 100% greater than the original penalty, not later than seven days before the court date on which the charge would be heard.

If the person were to take up the option, proceedings would be discontinued and he or she would not have to attend court.


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