Criminal law

Road Traffic and Drink Driving Offences

There are a variety of motoring offences which carry penalty points, a fine or imprisonment depending on the severity of the offence committed. Most motoring offences are heard in the District Court. More serious road traffic matters are sent forward to the Circuit Court for trial, such as careless driving or drink driving causing death.

While many Road Traffic offences are relatively minor and only result in a fine and/or penalty points on your driving licence, some are much more serious which can have very adverse consequences, for example drink driving or driving whilst under the influence of drugs which will lead to disqualification from driving and a fine at the very least.

For Drink Driving offences, the disqualification period ranges from three months to six years depending on the level of alcohol detected in the bloodstream, and whether it is your first or a subsequent offence.
It is also an offence to refuse to provide a sample of blood, urine, or breath for evidential purposes which carries an automatic disqualification from driving of four years for a first offence and six years for a second or subsequent offence.

There are certain specific ‘administrative procedures’ for dealing with drink driving offences at lower blood–alcohol limits. If you are a learner, novice or professional driver and are above a 20mg blood–alcohol limit, you will be served with an ‘on the spot’ fixed penalty notice and receive a fine of €200, and you will also be disqualified from driving for three months.
If you fall into any other category of driver or vehicle and are tested at or over a 50mg blood–alcohol reading, you will be issued an ‘on the spot’ fixed penalty notice, receive a fine of €200 and three penalty points. The points will remain on your licence for three years. If you accumulate 12 points in a three year period, you will be disqualified from driving for six months.

Assault, Disorderly Conduct and Violent Crime

It may be that at some stage you will make or receive a telephone call to indicate that you or a family member or a friend has been arrested for a particular crime.

It is imperative that you contact your solicitor as soon as possible to ensure that you or your family member or friend are appropriately represented in the criminal justice system.

Corporate Offences

The rules and regulations governing the conduct of business and the conduct of the individuals in business are extremely complex.

It has become apparent in the last twenty or thirty years that having simple civil prohibitions on the carrying out of certain activities by companies is not a sufficient deterrent.

Previously, companies could escape sanction because there was “nobody to punish”. However, the law has now changed.

Accordingly, the criminal justice system has brought in legislation governing how businesses must behave. In some cases there are criminal sanctions and also very significant fines, such as in cases of breaches of competition legislation, price-fixing, violations of the Companies Acts, non-compliance with certain European Union legislation, Health & Safety law, environmental legislation, planning legislation, data protection legislation and laws against financial crime.

Much of the legislation creating these corporate criminal offences contains complex rules, which require very rigorous proof on the part of the prosecuting authorities. In some cases, the prosecutor is the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), but it can also be the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) or An Garda Síochána.

It is crucial if your business is the subject of criminal prosecution for a corporate offence, that you obtain advice from your solicitor as soon as possible in order to protect your business and its reputation.

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