13 toll dodgers on M50 are hit with fines of €165,000
Thirteen motorists accused of dodging M50 tolls have been handed fines totalling €165,000.
The penalties, ranging from €5,000 to €15,000, were imposed by Judge Anthony Halpin during a single sitting of Dublin District Court yesterday.
In all the prosecutions which resulted in fines, none of the summoned motorists appeared at court.
One was accused of not paying tolls for more than 500 trips and was allegedly sent almost 2,000 letters demanding payment.
Cases against them went ahead in their absence.
One unpaid trip on Christmas Day ended up costing one motorist €3,000 alone.
Eleven other people had their cases adjourned and two had them struck out after motorists engaged with lawyers for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), which runs the barrier-free motorway.
Judge Halpin said the court needed to send out the right message about the toll evasion and some of the defendants, saying: "They do not even turn up to court."
He noted from counsel that publicity about the prosecutions had led to improved toll paying.
Every case dealt with yesterday featured five sample counts and photo evidence of how many times the defendants' vehicles used the motorway without paying.
Judge Halpin imposed smaller fines on some motorists who had made efforts to pay.
The court heard the prosecution's evidence showed the passage of the vehicles, mostly private cars, on the motorway on dates in September, November and December 2018.
Prosecuting counsel Thomas Rice BL said a TII official had certificates of ownership and images of the vehicles passing the toll gantry on the M50.
Owners were given six months to pay the fines, as well up to €350 in prosecution costs.
The standard toll for a private car is €3.10 and must be paid before 8pm the next day or else there is a €3 penalty.
Motorists then have 14 days to pay for the journey and the initial penalty, otherwise a further penalty of €41 is applied.
After a further 56 days there is an additional penalty charge of €103.