Drivers, by using a tolled motorway, are legally presumed to have accepted liability for payment of the toll, a judge said on Monday.
Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke clarified the situation today for a Co Kilkenny man who had failed to pay a bill for €1,500 tolls and penalties relating to unpaid passages along the M50.
David Walshe, who represented himself and, while not going into evidence in the Circuit Civil Court, suggested in his cross-examination of an Eflow executive, that he had not used the toll on the dates stated and that someone else may have stolen his car registration and had been using it illegally to avoid toll charges.
Mr Walshe, of Manor Walk, Rosehill, Kells Road, Kilkenny, had been ordered by the Dublin District Court to pay €1,500 in tolls and penalties in relation to 17 passages through the north Co Dublin M50 toll.
The court had heard the bulk of the €1,500 had been made up of penalties. Mr Walshe had appealed to the Circuit Court which affirmed the order of the lower court and directed he pay €1,000 in legal costs on top of his fines and penalties.
The judge said the law stated that the registered owner of a vehicle which passes through a tolled area is responsible to pay the toll.
He said when someone drove their vehicle on a tolled road they were presumed by law to have accepted payment of the toll charge.
“If you don’t want to pay the toll then you take a different route to avoid it,” the judge said. “If you take a tolled route you are accepting responsibility to pay the toll and that is the responsibility of the registered owner.”
The judge said on 17 different journeys the vehicle registered in the name of Mr Walshe passed the toll and no toll charge had been paid.
The court was satisfied that he had received all relevant correspondence from the National Roads Authority trading as Eflow with regard to liability to pay.
The judge said Mr Walshe had suggested that the vehicle that had traversed the M50 toll had not been his car but a vehicle carrying his personal car registration which had been stolen and used with criminal intent to avoid payment of a toll.
The judge said he had heard no evidence from Mr Walshe that this had actually happened even though the Eflow executive had told the court that this does happen occasionally.
There also had been no evidence of any complaint having been made to the Garda Síochána by Mr Walshe stating that his registration had been stolen.
The judge said the evidence was conclusive that Mr Walshe was responsible for the tolls and he affirmed the order of the District Court with additional legal costs.