Comment & Analysis: I’m going to tell the story of a Gardaí complaint I made after a driver wasn’t fined for a close pass. I never usually report incidents. Today, nearly 9 months after the incident, I got a letter saying, on reviewing the footage, at a minimum a Fixed Charge Penalty Notice (FCPN) should have been issued, but because 107 days have passed, it can’t be done.
On the May 16th last year, I was bringing my daughter to school on our cargo bike when the close paas happened. I’m a tough cookie, but I was shook. My daughter told me she thought the car was going to hit her arm.
After the close pass, the driver took an immediate right into the golf club.
I decided to report it to TrafficWatch. I never do this. I am busy, too much hassle. I don’t like conflict. I have only ever reported one other time. Very similar incident. Dealt with quickly and well by Garda. Somehow, that makes this incident worse.
I heard nothing for ages. I suspected this might happen so I followed up by calling TrafficWatch and the Gardaí. Eventually, 38 days later, on the June 23rd I got a call from a Garda. I gave my account and sent on my footage.
This took a bunch of emails. After multiple attempts, he eventually managed to view it on the July 12th. We were now 57 days in. I didn’t know what to expect next but a couple of weeks later he called and said he needed a statement. We were in August by now.
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I didn’t know about the 107 day statute of limitations. I didn’t know it was all over by that stage. I had reported the offence on the day it happened. I had responded promptly and done everything asked of me. I didn’t hear anything after that. I checked in a couple of times.
I went in and gave my statement. The Garda reviewed the footage again and said he expected an FCPN would be issued. That was the August 19th. Day 96. Maybe I would have been wiser if I reported people more, but I never do this so I didn’t realise.
Eventually, on October 5th (day 143), the garda emailed me back and told me the inspector had decided that, no further action was warranted because of the driver’s age. I wasn’t happy at all. I’d understand if they decided no offence had been committed but come on!.
I requested the Pulse number, the system used to track cases. The Garda gave me a number but it wasn’t the Pulse number for my incident. I found that out later.
It turns out you can appeal a decision not to prosecute so I decided to do that. In order to appeal, you first have to formally request the reason for the decision not to prosecute. I did and I was told that the reason was, “Insufficient evidence.”
Insufficient evidence? I had submitted video of the offence. The next step was to appeal the decision not to prosecute. This was the point at which the wrong Pulse ID came to light. I also had to resend the footage on a USB.
Anyway, today I got the letter with the finding that the decision not to prosecute was wrong. They said that “At a minimum,” an FCPN for driving without due care and attention should have been issued. However, given the 107 days have passed, they can’t do anything.
It’s weird to be upset because while the driver broke multiple rules of the road and endangered me and my daughter because they couldn’t be 10 seconds late to their golf game, the incident was small — a matter of seconds. We weren’t hurt, just shook.
I suppose my frustration stems from the fact that it exposed this two-tier system where some of us are subject to the law and others are not. This whole process was mad and maddening The 107 days ran out. The delay was not on my side.
So, 107 days… I reported on day 1 but wasn’t interviewed until day 96. The motto at the bottom of the garda letter I received today is “Keeping People Safe.” I guess that applies to the offender in my situation. Me and my 10 year old? Not so much.