M50 toll dodgers: 12 motorists hit with fines totalling €143,500

One man with a record of 738 trips in five years had been sent over 2,000 warning letters and received the highest fine
M50 toll dodgers: 12 motorists hit with fines totalling €143,500

Tom Tuite

Twelve motorists have been fined a total of €143,500 after they ignored court prosecutions and warning letters for repeatedly dodging M50 tolls.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), the State agency dealing with road and public transport infrastructure, summonsed them to appear at Dublin District Court on Monday.

However, they did not attend their hearings, which went ahead in their absence.

Judge John Brennan handed out fines ranging from €5,000 to €20,000, which they must pay within six months.

He also ordered the motorists to pay up to €350 in prosecution costs.

Eleven were regular private car owners, with three to five sample counts for unpaid tolls in June 2021 and February and March this year.

TII also revealed each motorist's overall record of unpaid charges and warning letters sent before court proceedings commenced.

One man with a record of 738 trips in five years had been sent over 2,000 warning letters; he received the highest fine on Monday.

A van owner with a record of 260 trips and no payments was fined €13,000.

The judge noted the types of vehicles and their records of outstanding charges. He said the number of unpaid tolls, lack of engagement with the motorway operators, and failure to come to court were aggravating factors.

Drivers who had made an effort to pay for some of their journeys were given lower fines.

TII posted hundreds of warning letters to most defendants before bringing the court prosecutions, which can carry a potential custodial sentence.

The agency had certificates detailing the registered owners of the vehicles as well as pictures of them passing the toll gantry on specific dates.

Prosecuting counsel Thomas Rice BL (instructed by Pierse Fitzgibbon Solicitors) said the defendants were not in court, but Judge Brennan agreed to his application to proceed in their absence.

Counsel called on a TII witness to confirm each vehicle's ownership records, the number of passages, and payment history.

The judge heard that most did not engage with the transport agency.

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

It has also heard that it was the practice of the motorway authority to select habitual non-payers to face criminal proceedings.

At the time of most the offences, the standard M50 toll for a private car was €3.20, which had to be paid before 8pm the following day or face a €3 penalty for missing the deadline.

Motorists had 14 days to pay for the journey and the initial penalty or face a more significant penalty.

The charge ramps up after 56 days; if it remains unpaid, warning letters and court proceedings follow.

Commercial and goods vehicle owners pay higher tolls. In all the cases, the registered vehicle owner is liable even if they were not driving.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more