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Dublin: 1 °C Wednesday 26 November, 2014

A broken speedometer, a dying cow and a swarm of bees – how some people avoided penalty points

Nearly a quarter of penalty point notices in 2011 and 2012 were quashed, with some flimsy excuses being accepted.

Image: Photocall Ireland

ONE IN FIVE people evade penalty points and do not end up in court because of weaknesses in the system and a quarter were quashed.

Today’s report by the Comptroller and Auditor General called on the gardaí to address what he called “significant” flaws in the system.

The report found that there is no controls to stop gardaí terminating penalty point notices which are not in their authority.

The system has come under intense scrutiny in the last 12 months.

In total, notices were terminated for 42,700 in 2011 and 2012. Nationally, an average of 2.2 per cent of notices were terminated. However in Ennis this figure was 5.9 per cent. In Birr, 0.1 per cent of notices were terminated.

The report took a sample of 300 notice terminations in reviewed offices an found that in 11 cases there was no reason given for the termination.

It also found that more than half the cases had been wiped on a discretionary basis.

Circumstances and explanations accepted by District Officers included:

  • 26 cases of speeding on the way to a hospital or GP appointment
  • the road being “wide and quiet”
  • being late to pick up a relative from a bus station
  • being late for a religious ceremony
  • speeding back to a farm because bees were attacking livestock
  • being late for a swimming lesson
  • having a broken speedometer
  • accidentally speeding
  • not seeing a red light

and

  • a driver claim not to be concentrating because his mind was mind was on a dying cow on his farm.

Both Blanchardstown and the Bridewell in Dublin topped the list for most terminations, with 699 and 355 respectively.

3,000 notices were not served because of delays getting data from notepads into the garda system and the C&AG report found a high level of unaccounted for forms.

While making no judgements, the report said that “absent and inadequate records, and recorded facts in other cases, give rise to concerns that many cases have been terminated without due cause”.

The report also said that a system whereby companies must identify drivers of company vehicles was open to abuse. Many companies are responding that they do not know who is driving, leaving a prosecution next to impossible.

Read: Varadkar: We need another investigation into the penalty points controversy

Read: ‘Dysfunctional and flawed’: TDs slam penalty points investigation

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