Gardai’s penalty points blunder

by admin

Over a thousand motorists have had their penalty points struck off and fines refunded following a mistake by An Garda Siochana.
A total of 1,306 motorists were affected by the blunder, which was discovered following a routine review by the Regional Traffic Division in Dublin Castle.
It is understood that the speed cameras that caught the motorists in four locations including Castleknock and Mulhuddart, on seven different occasions were in zones that had a reduced speed limit because of roadworks.
These reduced speed limits were decided upon by gardai, however, gardai did not get an order from Fingal County Council to enforce the new speed limit as law.
According to a statement from the Garda, this meant that the fixed charge penalty notice had no legal basis because the “statutory instrument required was not in place” resulting in motorists having their penalty points revoked and their fines refunded.
The statement confirmed the issue concerned the N3 in Castleknock on January 26 and February 13 in 2012, and this year it concerned the N2 in Coldwinters on January 10, 17 and 28, on the N3 eastbound in Mulhuddart on April 9 and N3 westbound in Mulhuddart on April 18.
A letter dated September 3 was posted to all 1,306 cases last week outlining the issue and enclosed a refund cheque of the fine paid by motorists.
However, in an unfortunate twist, the refunded cheques issued also contained an administrative error, and gardai are now asking those in receipt of the cheque to return them with the accompanying letter to the address outlined on the letter so that a replacement cheque can be issued.
The Garda sent the notification letter about this on Monday, September 9, to all those affected, and “wish to apologise to those affected for the inconvenience”.
The letter can be sent to DMR Regional Traffic Division, An Garda Siochana, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.
Meanwhile, a notification of the expunging of penalty points by the Road Safety Authority is being processed separately in the coming days.
Speaking to the Gazette, local councillor Eithne Loftus (FG) said that she is glad the Garda have acknowledged the error and are rectifying the situation.
“I’m just glad to see that they recognised their mistake and refunded the drivers that were fined erroneously. We all make mistakes from time to time, but it surprises me, to say the least of it,” she said.
“I would say well done to the Garda for finding their mistake and rectifying it. I can’t see that there’s any blame attached to motorists or to the gardai. It was an error, and they’ve been big enough to refund the drivers.”
Local councillor Peggy Hamill (Lab) also commented: “I suppose it’s really on a technicality. It wasn’t enforced, so technically the motorist does have a point.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Ruth Coppinger (Socialist Party) told the Gazette that gardai must ensure “this doesn’t happen again”.
“It’s unfortunate that a blunder like that has meant that speed limits were effectively null and void, in terms of people being punished for breaking the speed limit and potentially driving unsafely. So it’s something that has to be rectified immediately. The gardai and the council have to liaise to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” she said.

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