Want to avoid court if prosecuted for a traffic offense in Ireland?

Motorists summoned for road traffic offenses may be able to avoid appearing before a judge if they agree to pay a double fine, under new rules being considered by the government.

Speeding, illegal parking, failure to fasten seat-belts and other minor motoring offenses usually detected by radar, cameras or at checkpoints, carry fixed fines.

Some of them also carry two, three or four penalty points which, when added up to 12, can mean a driving ban.

Notice of the offenses is sent by regular, unregistered, post to the drivers or, where they are unidentified, to car owners who are identified by license-plate registrations.

Offenders are given 28 days to pay or 56 if they add up to an extra 50 percent to the original fine.

When the fines remain unpaid, only then is a summons issued and delivered by a garda in person to the offender with a date on which a prosecution will be held in court.

Now the government is considering plans to serve, with the prosecution summons, a notice that payment of double the original fine will mean avoidance of a court appearance.

The scheme devised by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Transport Minister Shane Ross, and Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Shane Ross, is a bid to combat the system in which thousands of drivers avoid incurring penalty points each year.

At present, when many appear in court after receiving a summons, they claim they never received the original fixed-term penalty notices.

As fixed-term notices are sent by regular post and are not registered, it can be difficult to prove whether the driver has received them.

Under the new rule, motorists will have the option of paying the increased fine or going to court where they cannot use the excuse that they had not received notice of the original fine.

A government spokesman said, “This bill will restore fairness to the system, while giving people another payment option and therefore another opportunity to avoid court.”

Motorists may be able to avoid appearing before a judge if they agree to pay a double fineGetty Images/iStockphoto