Dozen M50 toll dodgers fined €203k for payment failures as worst offender van owner made 910 unpaid journeys
TWELVE motorists were fined €203,500 after failing to face court proceedings over outstanding M50 tolls, including a van owner who never paid for almost a thousand journeys on the motorway.
1Out of the 12 toll dodgers only one driver turned up to the court hearing in Dublin District Court
The only driver to turn up and explain his case walked away with a €250 fine and an order to pay €100 toward costs.
The other 11 car owners and one van driver faced five sample charges for dodging the tolls on Ireland's busiest motorway from April to July last year and in November 2022.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) prosecuted them after sending hundreds of warning letters to each defendant.
The judge said the tolls were "necessary to improve transport and improve roads; they are outstanding now compared to 50 years ago".
M50 operators and vehicle ownership history.
The lowest fine for the absent defendants was €8,000 for a private vehicle owner who paid for one out of 126 trips.
A van owner had the worst record and paid for none of his 910 drives, which cost €4.20 each for the five in the sample summons.
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He was fined €25,000 in his absence.
A man whose vehicle had made 433 journeys on the motorway and paid no toll was fined €20,500.
But one who paid for four out of 493 was fined €19,000.
Zero attempt to pay
Another driver who paid for none of his 89 trips was fined €15,000, as was another motorist who made zero attempt to settle his 250 outstanding motorway charges.
One woman was fined €22,000 after the court heard she paid for just two out of 783 on her record.
The judge heard most did not respond to attempts to sort out the payments.
The motorists were also ordered to pay €350 in costs.
Prosecuting counsel Thomas Rice (instructed by Pierse Fitzgibbon Solicitors) said the cases against the 12 defendants could proceed in their absence.
A TII witness confirmed each vehicle's ownership records, the number of passages, and payment history.
Some had recently stopped being owners of the cars subject to the prosecutions.
However, TII had evidence to show they were the registered owners at the time of the journeys.
It also had images of all the vehicles passing the toll gantry.
The court can impose fines of up to €5,000 per charge and a six-month sentence.
However, it remains the practice of the motorway authority to pick habitual non-payers to face criminal proceedings.
The single motorist who turned up was fined just €250 when he explained that his ex-partner kept the car, still registered in his name, but his former brother-in-law was responsible for the tolls.
He explained that he was oblivious to warning letters sent to his former address and couldn't go around there because of a barring order.
He claimed he had just learned about the impending court case days beforehand but wanted to resolve the issue with motorway operators.
The standard toll for a private car is now €3.50, which must be paid before 8 pm the following day, or there is an added penalty.
Surcharges ratchet up after 56 days, followed by warning letters and court proceedings if it remains unpaid. Commercial and goods vehicle owners pay more, and registered owners are liable.