Motorists who fail to pay road traffic fines will be given a third and final opportunity to pay the notice before going to court.
As it stands, those sent a fixed charged penalty notice by gardaí are given a deadline by which they must pay. An increased penalty follows if the cut-off point is missed.
If the second fine goes unpaid, motorists will receive a summons to appear in district court. However, section 44 of the Road Traffic Act 2010, which has yet to be implemented, allows motorists to avoid court by paying a fixed charge on service of a summons.
The act provides that a person who has not paid the fixed charge within the specified 56 days, and who has received a summons, may pay the fixed charge up to seven days before the date of the court hearing.
The Department of Transport has said it expects the arrangements for the “third payment option” for motoring fines to be in place by next year. A spokesperson said the measure has not yet been used as the administrative structure for dealing with it is not yet in place.
“Following the receipt of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform sanction, work on the implementation of the third payment option project has been ongoing,” said the spokesperson. “The department understands that An Garda Síochána and the Courts Service will continue to work on the project over the coming months with a view to having the necessary arrangements in place as soon as possible next year.”
Last year, the High Court ruled that section 55 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 specifically barred penalty point offences being dismissed under the Probation Act, meaning judges cannot use the court poor box as an alternative to imposing convictions for those who appear in court over unpaid fines.
In his ruling on the case of Kennedy v Gibbons, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan ruled that “the District Court enjoys no jurisdiction to impose an informal sanction short of actual conviction such as accepting a donation to the poor box”, because this would amount to a circumvention of the statutory scheme of mandatory penalties for road traffic offences imposed by the Oireachtas.
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