Poor box is a poor substitute for penalty points, says Varadkar

The Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar: Offending drivers “should get the penalty points,” he said. Photograph: Eric Luke

The Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar: Offending drivers “should get the penalty points,” he said. Photograph: Eric Luke

Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 06:00

More than 1,700 drivers escaped penalty points and a conviction for motoring offences last year by making a contribution to a court poor box. The practice has been criticised by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar , who said that motorists making a donation to a poor box should have points applied to their licence.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Mr Varadkar said it was “very frustrating, and kind of wrong” that people are getting the poor box.

“It is one thing to say that you are not going to apply a conviction to somebody; it is another that the driver doesn’t get any penalty points at all. They should get the penalty points,” he said.

According to the Courts Services, 1,754 motorists made a donation to the court poor box last year and did not receive a conviction.

Ann Fogarty, A member of road safety group Parc, said the fines are forgone to the State by giving the motorists the option of donating to the poor box.

“Those fines could have supported additional Garda enforcement to counter some of the most dangerous behaviours on our roads,” she said.

She said Parc’s view was that drivers found guilty in court of motoring offences “should face the full rigour of the law and receive points and a fine”.

“That is the only way penalty points will be successful in stopping people reoffending,” said Fogarty.