MORE than €200,000 has been paid by An Garda Siochana this year for storage of vehicles that have been towed.
According to statistics released through the Freedom of Information Act, An Garda Siochana has paid out €54,464 for storage for cars in Cork North, €141,325 in Cork City, and €12,890 in Cork West. This is on top of towing costs of €124,900 in Cork City; €119,050 in Cork North, and €9,450 in Cork west.
Earlier this year, an internal audit report revealed that it costs the gardaí more than €8 million a year to stow towed cars. Drivers have to pay €125 to recover their vehicle and €35 for every 24-hour period it remains in storage after the first day, if it was seized from motorists suspected of driving over the alcohol limit or having either no licence or insurance.
But motorists are not charged if the car had insurance, tax and a valid NCT cert at the time they were stopped; or if the car was used without the permission of the owner.
In the first seven months of this year, almost 1,200 cars were seized across the country from learner drivers who were driving unaccompanied.
The audit said towing services should be provided on a cost-neutral basis. However, the report also noted that the rates for such services – set by Department of Transport – have not increased since 2011.
Cars are typically towed for examinations by public service vehicle inspectors if the vehicle has been involved in an accident, or in cases were vehicles are seized by gardaí because drivers have no insurance, tax or the driver is underage.
A garda spokesman said: “Towing, storage and disposal fees include all vehicles detained under Section 41 of the Road Traffic Act 1994, official Garda vehicles and other vehicles seized or transported by An Garda Siochana for investigative, evidential and technical examination purposes. These figures include sums paid to non-contracted firms who had been requested to remove a vehicle in an emergency situation or in cases where the location of the vehicle presented a danger to other road users and required immediate removal.”