Four out of five drivers escape conviction over penalty points

Some 150,000 drivers summonsed to court over penalty points offences are not prosecuted

Four out of five drivers summonsed to court over penalty points offences are escaping conviction, new figures show.

Almost 150,000 drivers who were ordered to appear in court over the past two years were not convicted for reasons including not being served with a summons at the correct address, or claiming to have never received a fixed-charge notice in the post.

Tommy Broughan TD said it was “astonishing” a majority of drivers involved in speeding and other offences, and ordered to appear in court, were avoiding conviction.

“This is making a farce of the system,” he said. “We’ve had ongoing difficulties over the transparency and integrity of the penalty points system. This is just another way that people are getting away without prosecution.”


Regular post

Fixed-charge fines for penalty points are typically sent through the regular post, rather than registered post, making it difficult to prove a driver received the notice.

Road safety campaigners claim many individuals summonsed to court for failing to pay penalty points fines can escape prosecution by claiming they never received the notice. In addition, the Garda has reported difficulties serving summonses due to inaccurate address data, people moving house or living in apartments which make access to properties difficult.


Chairwoman of the Parc road safety group

Susan Gray

said efforts to make our roads safer were being undermined by the fact that so many were escaping convictions.

Figures compiled by the Courts Service for the Department of Justice shows more than 147,000 drivers were summonsed, but not convicted, between January 2013 and March 2015. The average proportion of drivers not being convicted was 77 per cent, though figures were highest in Kerry (89 per cent) and lowest in Wexford (67 per cent).

In a statement Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said a criminal justice working group was considering reforms aimed at making more drivers pay fines and reducing summons activity. The Garda said it was working on reforming issues over fixed charges for penalty points.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent