Thursday 1 June 2017
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D., announced today that the long awaited commencement of Part 3 of the Road Traffic Act 2010, which in addition to a complete revision of the fixed charge system, also includes the “3rd payment option” for the payment of a fixed charge when served with a summons to court.
The Fixed Charge Payment System and the Penalty Point System have been very effective components of the suite of measures to address road safety since the two systems were established in 2002.
Minister Ross noted that the Fixed Charge Payment System is widely accepted by the general public, as evidenced by the fact that over 80% of those served with a fixed charge notice pay the prescribed fixed charge amount without recourse to the courts.
Speaking today the Minister said “the legislation I am commencing today provides much needed enhancements to the Fixed Charge and Penalty Points System”.
Previously, on receipt of a fixed charge notice for a road traffic offence, the offender was given 28 days to pay the amount set out in the notice and that amount increased by 50% within a further 28 days before the matter proceeded to court. Under the new provisions and similarly to the previous system, if no payment is received during that 56 day period, a summons to court is issued, but now with a fixed charge notice also being served. This fixed charge notice, commonly referred to the ‘3rd payment option’ will give the offender a third and final chance to pay (at twice the original charge) before the matter comes before the court.
The Minister acknowledged that this was a complex project which involved the co-operation of a number of public bodies including the Department of Justice and Equality, An Garda Síochána, the Office of the Attorney General and the Courts Service in bringing this project to a point where it can now be commenced.
Benefits of the new system include increased efficiencies for the Court and An Garda Síochána. In addition, certain presumptions have also been set out where the matter proceeds before the Courts, allowing for evidence of postage to be provided by An Post (or other post provider) to permit the presiding judge to challenge oral evidence whereby the accused claims not to have received the FCN in the post as has happened in the past.
In order for the new provisions to be introduced, significant IT administrative supports had to be developed and put in place by both An Garda Síochána and the Courts Service. The provisions of the Courts Act 2017, also being commenced today by the Minister for Justice and Equality, underpin the operation of those IT supports.