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File photo of M50 tolls

Woman who ignored 500 warning letters among eight M50 toll dodgers fined €114k in total

The highest was imposed on a woman with a record of 485 unpaid tolls on Ireland’s busiest motorway.

EIGHT DRIVERS HAVE been fined €114,000 after failing to appear in court for repeatedly dodging M50 tolls, including a woman who ignored 500 warning letters.

Today, Judge Anthony Halpin imposed fines ranging from €2,000 to €25,000 in their absence at Dublin District Court.

The highest was imposed on a woman with a record of 485 unpaid tolls on Ireland’s busiest motorway.

Judge Halpin noted another woman accused of dodging tolls in two cars kept sending sick notes to court every time her case was listed.

He granted her a final chance to show up in July and warned, “If she fails to appear, I am going to issue a bench warrant for her arrest.”

Six car owners and two commercial vehicle owners faced sample charges for using the motorway from August to December last year.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) prosecuted them after sending hundreds of warning letters.

Judge Halpin heard information about vehicle types and detailed records of outstanding charges, and he noted that the motorists did not turn up in court despite getting summonses.

In each case, he heard evidence of the motorists’ level of engagement with the M50 operators and vehicle ownership history.

Twenty cases were adjourned, while two prosecutions were dropped after those defendants reached an agreement with the toll operator.

Prosecutions proceeded against eight defendants who had been sent warning letters but did not come to court and were fined in absentia.

The judge ordered a van owner to pay €15,000 after he used the motorway 85 times but never cleared any of his outstanding tolls.

The second commercial vehicle owner was ordered to pay €19,000 after the judge noted he did not pay for any of his 163 trips on the M50.

The private car owner who received the highest fine today had paid for four out of 489 drives, and she had received the most warning letters.

One motorist with a history of paying for 41 of 439 car journeys through the M50 gantry had been granted legal aid for a solicitor, who briefed a barrister. But he did not show up to instruct his counsel and was fined €15,000.

They were also ordered to pay the fines and €350 costs within three months.

Prosecuting counsel Thomas Rice (instructed by Pierse Fitzgibbon Solicitors) said the cases against the eight could go ahead in their absence.

A TII witness confirmed each vehicle’s ownership records, the number of passages, and payment history.

There was also evidence showing they were the registered owners at the time.

It also had images of all the vehicles passing the toll gantry.

The court can impose fines of up to €5,000 per charge and a six-month sentence.

However, the motorway operator’s practice is to prosecute habitual non-payers.

The standard toll for a private car is now €3.70, which must be paid before 8 pm the following day, or there is an added penalty.

Surcharges ratchet up after 56 days, followed by warning letters and court proceedings if it remains unpaid. Commercial and goods vehicle owners pay more, and registered owners are liable.