Only one-third convicted after caught on phone while driving

Over 30% of cases could not proceed as orders requiring drivers in court not served

Driving while holding a mobile phone became an offence in 2006. It attracts a fixed fine of €80 and three penalty points. Photograph: Istock

Driving while holding a mobile phone became an offence in 2006. It attracts a fixed fine of €80 and three penalty points. Photograph: Istock

 

Of more than 12,000 people listed before the courts since January 2015 for driving while holding a mobile phone, just over a third were convicted, new figures show.

Almost a third of the cases could not go ahead because the summonses requiring drivers to appear in court had not been served.

The raw data, supplied to Deputy Tommy Broughan by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, covered January 2015 to March 2017, and was analysed by Road Safety Group, Parc.

There were more than 4,400 people convicted for the offence of holding a mobile phone while driving over the 27-month period; 36 per cent of 12,143 people listed to appear before courts around the country.

Convictions varied widely across the country. In Offaly, of 131 people listed before the courts for driving while holding a mobile phone, 77 or almost 60 per cent, were convicted. But in Kerry, of 389 people listed for the offence, only 59, or 15 per cent, were convicted.

Summonses not served

More than 3,560 cases were struck out because summonses were not served, with the highest figures in Monaghan. There, of 190 people listed for the offence, half had their cases struck out because summonses had not been served.

Nationally, more than 3,000 people had their cases struck out for other reasons, including flaws in summonses and the failure of gardaí to appear in court. Just over 1,220 people were not convicted, having had their cases dismissed on the facts, according to the figures.

Fixed fine of €80

Of those who were convicted, 60 per cent had their licence numbers recorded in court. Driving while holding a mobile phone became an offence in 2006. It attracts a fixed fine of €80 and three penalty points. If the fixed penalty is not paid, the driver is summonsed to court where , on conviction, five points can be added to a driver’s licence.