More than half of learner driver fines remain unpaid

Figures show just 2,089 out of 4,259 drivers fined for failure to display L-plates paid up

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald provided the figures in answer to a parliamentary question from Independent TD Tommy Broughan. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald provided the figures in answer to a parliamentary question from Independent TD Tommy Broughan. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

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Fines amounting to more than €526,000 issued to learner drivers who did not display L-plates or who were driving unaccompanied by a qualified driver remain unpaid.

More than half of all fines issued by gardaí to motorists who failed to display L-plates in the last two years were unpaid, answers to a parliamentary question reveal. Figures provided by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald reveal that just 2,089 out of 4,259 so-called fixed-charge notices issued in 2014 and 2015 for such an offence were paid.

This leaves a total of 2,170 or 51 per cent unpaid.

The Minister was responding to a question from Independent TD for Dublin Bay North Tommy Broughan.

The figures also show that 47 per cent of fines issued to learner drivers who were unaccompanied by a qualified driver were unpaid.

Penalty points

Some 5,860 fixed-charge notices for this offence were issued in 2014 and 2015. Just 3,097 (53 per cent) paid the fine and 2,763 did not pay.

Failure to display an L or N-plate carries two penalty points and a €60 fine, which increases to €90 if the fine is not paid within 28 days. An unaccompanied learner also faces two penalty points, with a fine of €80, which increases to €120 if it goes unpaid. This means the total revenue forfeited from the unpaid fines if the maximum amounts were applied exceeds €526,000.

Mr Broughan said he had also asked for information on the number of people who were subsequently prosecuted for not paying their fines, but that this was not available.

Tracking system

He said he had been told there was no direct electronic link between the prosecutions as recorded on the criminal case tracking system and the fines originally issued by An Garda Síochána.

Mr Broughan noted the Garda was continuing its “Operation Mobile Phone” yesterday.

“But it should be ‘Operation Road Safety’ every day,” he said. “There are so many aspects to promoting road safety and enforcing our laws that a strengthened Traffic Corps is urgently required.

“While negotiations are ongoing to form a government for the 32nd Dáil, road safety must also be placed on the agenda and necessary resources must be given to the Garda to increase the Traffic Corps.”

The Garda said this week that its members will be out in force over the Easter Bank Holiday period to tackle high-risk behaviour, with a particular focus on non-compliance with seatbelt-wearing.

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