herald

Monday 18 December 2017

'You're at the end of the road', judge tells uninsured driver

Byrne recognised he had a bad record, said his solicitor
Byrne recognised he had a bad record, said his solicitor

A judge has slammed uninsured motorists for leaving the public to "pick up the tab" after hearing the case of an offender caught behind the wheel for a fourth time.

Stephen Byrne (26) was already subject to a four-year ban when the car he was driving - its hazard lights flashing and an alarm sounding - drew the attention of gardai.

Judge Michael Walsh said uninsured drivers were involved in 2,500 crashes each year and behind €60m of claims.

He told Byrne he would order him to carry out 180 hours of community service in lieu of a four-month jail sentence if he is found suitable.

The accused, a father-of-three of Turret Road, Palmerstown, pleaded guilty to uninsured and unlicensed driving.

Dublin District Court heard gardai were on patrol at Park West Road at 11pm on May 8.

They saw the accused's Ford Focus with its hazard lights flashing and "some kind of alarm sounding", said Sgt Gail Smith.

Foolish

Officers signalled the car to stop and took the accused's details. He admitted he had no licence or insurance.

Byrne had 27 previous convictions, including three for driving without insurance.

In January 2015, he was banned from driving for four years. The ban is in force until January 2019, said Sgt Smith.

It was the accused's first day in court on the charge and he recognised he had a bad record, said his solicitor, Michelle Finan.

"It was extremely foolish of him to drive," she said.

The accused was healthy and drug-free and prepared to carry out community service.

"In this country, we have 5pc of drivers without insurance and 2,500 crashes per year involving uninsured drivers, probably 40 to 50 per week," said the judge.

"The cost of claims is €60m annually. What's damning about it is it's the compliant insurance holder who has to pick up the tab."

Adjourning the case for a report, Judge Walsh told Byrne he was at "the end of the road".

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