Fixed penalty notice post-dating is lawful court rules

Mr Justice Max Barrett found the State was entitled to post-date a fixed penalty notice posted to a man prosecuted for drink-driving
Fixed penalty notice post-dating is lawful court rules

Post-dating a driving offence fixed penalty notice with a date a day after it was sent out is lawful, the High Court had ruled.

Mr Justice Max Barrett found the State was entitled to post-date a fixed penalty notice posted to a man prosecuted for drink-driving. Brian Tuohy (24) had claimed the post-dating of his notice did not comply with the law.

Mr Tuohey, Loughcutra, Gort, Co Galway, had not paid the notice and had to go to the District Court to fight it. There, his lawyer argued, the case should be thrown out because putting a date the day after the notice was posted to him did not comply with the law.

The District Judge who heard the case decided the issue should be sent to the High Court for determination as a consultative case stated.

Statutory provisions

On Tuesday, Mr Justice Barrett found that post-dating of the type did not breach the relevant statutory provisions or present an issue as regards the law more generally.

Mr Tuohey was arrested for suspected drink-driving in Barrack Street, Gort, Co Galway, on July 23rd, 2017, after gardai spotted him driving without his lights on at around 3am.

He later gave a breath-alcohol reading in the local garda station of 39 microgrammes per 100militres of breath.

As this was at the lower end of the scale, it meant his prosecution could be dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice whereby he was to pay a €400 fine and be automatically disqualified from driving for six months.

No error of law

He did not pay and was summoned to court where the penalties on conviction are higher, including a one- or two-year driving ban depending on whether it is a first offence.

The DPP, argued the post-dating by one day was to ensure a person was given the maximum 28 days to pay the fine and facilitate a person in avoiding having to go to court. There was no breach of statutory procedure and was done to afford an accused as much fairness as possible.

Mr Tuohey's side argued this was the result of a "settled and deliberate policy" for which there was no provision in law and the case should be dismissed. The notice was invalid because the document was misleading on its face, it was claimed.

Mr Justice Barrett said there was "simply no error of law presenting" in this case.

Mr Tuohey benefited from the post-dating of the notice. Although the post-dating process was not expressly contemplated by law it neither undermines the operation of the statutory regime, involves any level of error, nor contaminates the prosecution process, he said.

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