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28 motorists fined a total of €266,000 for not paying M50 tolls

The private car owner with the highest amount of unpaid charges had been sent 1,176 warning letters and was fined €15,000.

The southbound lane of the M50. (File photo)
The southbound lane of the M50. (File photo)
Image: PA Images

TWENTY-EIGHT MOTORISTS have been hit with fines totalling €266,000 after failing to turn up to court to face charges for repeatedly dodging M50 tolls.

One defendant Des Long, of Rathsallagh Park, Shankill, Dublin, who is facing an ongoing case featuring allegations of 1,139 unpaid trips in his van, had his case adjourned until May.

He has been warned he could face fines of up to totalling €25,000 after the court heard he was sent 4,417 reminder letters over the motorway charges.

Like all defendants in the list at Dublin District Court, he was prosecuted on five sample counts.

Long has insisted he had been trying to deal with eFlow which operates barrier free tolling on the M50 for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).

Some 51 motorists had been summonsed to appear in court today.

Prosecutions against 28 of them went ahead in their absence resulting in hefty fines.

They had records of between 115 and 392 unpaid trips, Judge Halpin was told.

Each one generated three warning letters and thousands of them were sent to the motorists but the vast majority did not reply, the court heard.

The private car owner with the highest amount of unpaid charges had been sent 1,176 warning letters, and was fined €15,000.

Among them were four commercial vehicle owners. A woman registered as the owner of a heavy goods vehicle was fined €15,000 for 129 trips.

Prosecuting counsel Thomas Rice BL (instructed by Pierse Fitzgibbon Solicitors) said a TII official had certificates of ownership as well as the images of the vehicles passing the toll gantry on the M50, on dates from March until August last year.

On top of the fines, which have to be paid within six months, vehicle owners were ordered to pay €350 in prosecution costs.

Fines of up to €5,000 per charge as well as a sentence of up to six months can be imposed.

The court has heard the motorway authority only selected habitual non-payers to face criminal proceedings but no one has been jailed so far.

Fifteen motorists had cases adjourned to allow TII to engage further with them or for hearings to be held on later dates.

Eight others got strike outs, either as a result of having resolved their debt with the motorway operator, or due to issues with summonses.

One of the prosecutions against murdered Drogheda teenager Keane Mulready-Woods, was withdrawn.

Last week it was confirmed that remains found in Priorswood, Coolock and in a burned out vehicle at Trinity Terrace, Dublin 3, were those of the 17-year-old boy.

He had faced five sample counts alleging that as the registered owner of 2011-reg car. He had not paid tolls for journeys on the motorway on 25 June, 27 June, 28 June, 29 June and 30 June last year.

Summonses had been sent to his address in Drogheda.

Judge Anthony Halpin agreed to strike out the case after noting from prosecution counsel that the named defendant had passed away. 

The standard M50 toll for an unregistered private car is €3.10 must be paid before 8pm the following day or else there is a €3.00 penalty for missing the deadline.

Commercial and goods vehicle owners have to pay higher tolls.

The registered owner of a vehicle is responsible even if they were not driving the vehicle.

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Tom Tuite

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