Power of Customs & Excise Officers – stopping cars

Aug 23, 2011

Recently, one of our colleagues (a Kilkenny solicitor) got stopped by customs & excise, who proceeded to take a fuel sample from his jeep. The kilkenny solicitor was taken aback that not one officer identified who they were nor did they indicate the statutory basis for their taking a sample.

The following is the response received to his complaint and query to revenue = “Further to your e-mail of the 23rd May 2011 regarding the operation of a roadside checkpoint.

I can confirm that this was a checkpoint operated by officers from Dublin enforcement unit Officer Ann L and Officer Warren G were the two officers involved in this case. Revenue Customs officers are entitled to operate checkpoints on public roads, An officer in uniform is authorised under S134 of the Finance act 2001 to stop a vehicle. The officer is entitled to take a sample of fuel under S135 of the Finance act 2001. There is no requirement to quote the statute under which a vehicle is requested to stop, unless specifically requested by the driver.

Both officers were in full uniform and the Customs Checkpoint signs were displayed to warn traffic that a checkpoint was in operation. As stated in officer L’s report “As I was in the middle of the road in full uniform stopping traffic it would be impossible for me to identify myself to every vehicle I stopped” It is normal practice that at checkpoints vehicles are requested to stop and pull in to the side of the road by means of hand signs. This is done to minimise the disruption caused to traffic This was the procedure followed at this checkpoint.

If you require any further clarification please feel free to contact me at any stage.

Regards

Michael McHugo New Customs House Promenade Road Dublin 3 +353 1 8776464. “

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