Less than half of drink-driving cases before District Courts resulted in a conviction

Chances of conviction substantially lower in some District Courts than in others

Last year in Westmeath 85 per cent of drink-driving prosecutions were successful, while in  Co Waterford the figure was just 34 per cent.

Last year in Westmeath 85 per cent of drink-driving prosecutions were successful, while in Co Waterford the figure was just 34 per cent.

 

The chances of being convicted for a drink-driving offence are substantially lower in some District Courts than in others, according to an RTÉ investigation.

Likewise with other offences, such as theft and assault, prosecutions in District Courts in different parts of the State appeared to have widely different outcomes, according to data disclosed to the programme.

The RTÉ Investigates broadcast also said that last year slightly more than one out of every four summonses for all crimes to appear in court were not delivered by gardaí.

This was an improvement on the previous year when 43 per cent of summonses for all crimes were not delivered.

In a response to the programme, broadcast on Monday, An Garda Síochána said it took its role in the serving of summons very seriously but recognised further improvement was required in the area.

“There are a number of reasons summons are not served that are outside of our control,” it said. These included people who “are operating with multiple identities; people deliberating evading being served with a summons; and people moving and not providing a forwarding address”.

Courts Service figures

Last year in Westmeath, according to the programme, 85 per cent of drink-driving prosecutions were successful, while in Longford the figure was 82 per cent and Kildare 80 per cent.

However in Leitrim the equivalent figure was only 45 per cent, while Kilkenny scored 43 per cent and Co Waterford just 34 per cent.

The figures were provided by the Courts Service to Independent TD, Tommy Broughan, the programme said. Overall, 48 per cent of drink-driving cases that came before a District Court resulted in a conviction.

Data from the Courts Service regarding assault cases showed that in Kildare 10 per cent of all orders in assault cases were for strike out or dismissal while in Meath the figure was 64 per cent .

In Cork’s court district 18 (which includes Bandon, Bantry and Skibbereen) six per cent of orders in dangerous driving cases were for a strike out or dismissal while in the Leitrim/Sligo/South Donegal district the figure was 51 per cent.

In Cork City, 15 per cent of all orders were to jail the offender in dangerous driving cases, but in Kerry none of the 115 court orders for this crime was for imprisonment.

One per cent of drugs cases ended in jail

In the districts of Wexford, Co Limerick, Carlow-Kilkenny, Longford-Westmeath, Tipperary, Waterford City and Leitrim/Sligo/South Donegal, just one per cent of more than 3,100 court orders in drugs cases were for jail.

In Cork City it was 11 per cent, as judges used their discretion to impose custodial penalties.

In Louth, 37 per cent of court orders in theft cases were to jail the offender. In Waterford City it was just 6 per cent and in Dublin 9 per cent, the programme said.

The research also found 843 penalty points cases were dealt with by the poor box in 2015, despite the law providing no discretion to judges to apply the poor box in cases where driver penalty points automatically apply.

In 2016, the court poor box in Mayo paid out €9,930 to charities while Kerry’s poor box paid out €394,000, more than a quarter of the national poor box total.