Half of all drink-driving cases struck out of court

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It has been revealed by the Garda Síochána through the Policing Authority that only 8% of motorists who go to court for driving offences bring their licences with them so as to have penalty points attached.

Almost half of all drink-driving prosecutions were struck out last year because court summonses could not be served on the suspect.

An Garda Síochána has made efforts to contact 10,000 of the 14,700 motorists who were convicted of motoring offences without getting the chance to pay a fixed-penalty notice.

A Garda delegation led by Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan told the authority, chaired by Josephine Fehily that 1,500 of them refused to accept registered letters from the Gardaí.

Just one-in-12 drivers who appeared in court brought their licences so driving bans or penalty points could be attached to them.

Summonses are going unserved for many different reasons but usually, it is because suspects cannot be found so as to take receipt of a court summons sent to their claimed address in the post.

This is all happening at the very same time as the Gardaí have not carried out almost one million alcohol breath-tests which they had claimed they had undertaken in the course of their duty.

Added to this and other controversies concerning An Garda Síochána a review of Garda homicide figures show that many killings and murder were classified as non-fatal offences causing harm.

Besides all the different controversies involving policing in the Republic, the hearing was dominated by roads policing.

Ms Feehily of the Policing Authority said the Government’s road strategy from 2012 to 2020 targeted a reduction in fatalities from 162 in 2012 to 124 or lower by 2020. A reduction of 30 per cent was envisaged for serious injuries on the roads based on the 472 recorded in 2011.

In recent years, fatalities have risen by 15 per cent and serious injuries have risen by 34 per cent since 2012 and responding to these figures, Josephine Feehily said it was “a matter of great concern” that road safety in the Republic was deteriorating after improving for a number of years.

The former Road Safety Authority Chief Executive Noel Brett who is now a member of the Policing Authority said he was concerned about how Garda manpower and other resources, including vehicles, were assigned to traffic units.

In the Cork City division, there were 3.7 gardaí per vehicle in the traffic unit but in neighbouring North Cork, there were 33 Garda traffic members per vehicle.

Another member of the Policing Authority Maureen Lynott also pointed out that in the first quarter of 2017 the Gardaí had recorded 21,000 checkpoints nationally but there was still huge discrepancies in the activity of Garda members in different regions.

In Cork West, for example, each member of the Garda Traffic Corps had conducted an average of 105 checkpoints but individual Guards in Westmeath had only conducted 14 each.

Whether this was due to over-recording still taking place is not known. The disparity between regions is certainly something to investigate.

However, Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn said that in some areas activity was higher because there were more main roads or because crime rates were lower and more resources could be channelled into roads policing.


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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