Thousands of drivers who were wrongfully convicted of various offences will not have their cases appealed after An Garda Siochána said they could not be tracked down.
It emerged in early 2017 that up to 14,700 motorists were convicted of motoring offences despite the fact they had already paid a fine under the fixed charge notice system. Because they paid a fine, they should never have been summonsed to court and convicted or fined.
Gardaí say they have now established that a such a penalty was imposed by the courts in more than 12,000 cases.
Despite this, appeals have only progressed in 4,000 cases because gardaí could not track down the others, leaving more than 8,000 drivers with wrongful convictions.
In correspondence to the Public Accounts Committee, An Garda Siochána said it has encountered "difficulties" and has been advised that in the absence of contact with the outstanding motorists, further action can not be taken.
“As previously advised an examination of summonses and charges, issued between January 2006 and December 2016, identified a significant number of summonses and charges issued for persons who had committed offenses but were brought before the courts incorrectly and which required further examination by An Garda Siochána.
“It was identified that a penalty had been imposed by the courts in over 12,000 of these cases.”
After the issue was discovered, gardaí decided that in cases where a penalty had been imposed, these would be appealed to the court in order to have the conviction removed and any fines reimbursed.
As part of that process, gardaí would ask the affected driver for their consent to appeal.
“An Garda Siochána has encountered some difficulties in the process as it is dependent on receiving the consent of the person affected to allow the Gardai to progress matters on their behalf.
"A significant number of letters issued by registered post were returned undelivered by An Post.
“Those returned undelivered were then sent to each Garda district officers to be delivered by hand, over 2,000 were successfully delivered.
“Where delivery by hand was not possible An Garda Siochána carried out further enquiries and new addresses were identified for over 1,000 of the outstanding cases.
“In respect of the remaining cases it has not been possible to identify any additional information that could assist in obtaining the person’s consent.”
Gardai say it has been a “lengthy process that has contributed to a large extent to the delays in bringing this matter to a conclusion.”
“In summary, of the approximately 12,000 cases affected, over 4,000 letters of consent have been received.”
Gardaí say they have consulted with the Director of Public Prosecutions and have been advised that in the absence of consent, it is not possible to take any further action.
They also told the PAC that no person has lost their driving license as a result of the mistake.