Hurrying to a farm “because bees were attacking livestock”, running late for a religious ceremony and being late for a swimming lesson were among the reasons given by speeding drivers who had their penalty points cancelled in 2011 and 2012.
Other reasons given by drivers which resulted in fixed charge notices being terminated included the driver claiming that their speedometer was broken, “accidentally” exceeding the speed limit and “a lack of concentration by the driver who had other issues on his mind, such as a dying cow on his farm”.
They were among the reasons given by 300 drivers whose cases were examined by the C&AG in the office’s 2012 report.
This part of the wider C&AG report arose after the office was contacted in 2012 by a member of the Garda Síochána who raised concerns about the fixed charge notice system operated by gardaí.
The C&AG’s examination of the system found that, of 850,000 road traffic offences which resulted in the issuing of fixed charge notices in 2011 and 2012, notices were terminated in the case of 42,700 offences, or 5 per cent of notices issued in those years.
The report found that 59 per cent of terminated fixed charge notices in Garda regions, as recorded on the Garda’s fixed notice processing system between April and December 2012, were “discretionary”.
The report raised concerns that “absent and inadequate records, and the recorded facts of many cases, give rise to concerns that many cases have been terminated without due cause”.
It also found that a significant proportion of fixed charge notices were terminated outside the district in which the offence was detected, adding that there were "grounds for concern that certain 'outside district' cases were terminated without appropriate authority".
There was also concern that gardaí are not required to account for fixed charge notepad forms.
The report recommended that the Garda Síochána should start monitoring.
The Garda Commissioner agreed with the recommendation and said it would be implemented.
One in nine detected fixed penalty notices went unpaid but did not result in a court hearing because the summons was not served by gardaí.
The report recommended better integration between the Garda and Courts Service to identify patterns.
The Garda Commissioner agreed with the recommendation, and said it would be raised at the appropriate level.
The policy on termination of fixed charge notices was also deemed inconsistent.
The report recommended that the policy for the termination of fixed charge notices be reviewed.
The Garda Commissioner agreed with the recommendation, adding that guidance was issued to members on August 30th last.
Last night a spokesman for the Department of Justice said that it would be carefully examining the findings of the C&AG.
The spokesman added that Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has asked the Garda Inspectorate for a report on what additional measures might be required to improve the operation of the fixed charge notice system.
Separately, yesterday’s report also revealed that there was an €11 million shortfall on the cost of operating the safety camera system which was outsourced to the GoSafe consortium.