Kieran Lindsay, Gortnagregory, Glencar was convicted of drink driving at Shannagh, Mohill on October 7, 2017 while a charge of careless driving was struck out by Judge Kevin P Kilrane at last week’s sitting of Carrick-on-Shannon District Court.
Outlining the events of the night in question Gda Seamus Mimnagh said at 1.50am he was driving on Mohill’s Main Street when he observed a car coming out from the car park recalling, “The speed of the car drew my attention.”
Gda Mimnagh said he turned his car around and saw the defendant travel up Main Street, before making a right hand turn in the direction of the school.
Having travelled in the same direction Gda Mimnagh observed Mr Lindsay’s vehicle “crossways on the road with a cloud of smoke.”
The vehicle was then observed “Reversing at speed into the gateway of a family house,” with Gda Mimnagh recalling the car “Nearly hit the gable wall of the house.”
Having spoken to the driver Gda Mimnagh said he got a smell of intoxicating liquor from Mr Lindsay’s breath and formed the opinion he had consumed an intoxicant to such an extent as to be in an unfit state to be in control of a vehicle.
The defendant was conveyed to Carrick-on-Shannon Garda Station and following a 20 minute period of observation a demand was made of him to produce two samples of breath.
The Court heard Mr Lindsay’s breath revealed an alcohol level of 68mg of alcohol/100ml of breath.
Having heard Gda Mimnagh’s recollection of events, defending solicitor Kieran Ryan addressed the Court stating, “I don’t think there is any evidence to sustain a conviction for careless driving. The breath test requirement was given on the incorrect basis and everything after that is tainted and my client is entitled to the benefit of doubt.”
Mr Ryan argued that Gda Mimnagh had quoted an incorrect section of the road traffic act when making the requirement of the defendant to produce a sample of breath for a roadside test.
In reply Insp Denis Harrington said, “In relation to the section 52 (careless driving) charge, Gda Mimnagh came across him sideways on the road.
“In relation to the roadside breath test, the defendant wasn’t at a loss. It may have been an issue if he failed to comply.”
Having heard the evidence Judge Kilrane addressed first the issue of careless driving saying, “It is very clear what happened here.
“The Garda was driving down Main Street when he saw a car emerging from Clarke’s car park. Perhaps he was coming out a little fast but he is not charged with any offence there. Gda Mimnagh then turned around and pursued for a quarter of a mile.
“The driver was aware the patrol car was looking for him and he decided to hide the car and slammed on the brakes causing smoke to come from the tyres and reversed into a private house. I think it falls short of careless driving though.”
Judge Kilrane added that he was “Satisfied the breath test was lawfully administered.”
Imposing a conviction Judge Kilrane said, “The defendant tried to make good his escape but once he was cornered he was literally caught.”
Judge Kilrane referred to the dangers of drink driving and the difficulty for the State in securing prosecutions in such cases when he said, “This drink driving thing is going to have to be taken more seriously.
“The proofs required were so strict it is extremely difficult for the State to bring a prosecution home and it is difficult to know where this comes from. The same degree of technicality is not required in other cases.”
Judge Kilrane added, “Courts must be in compliance with the legislation,” adding “Fairness is at the heart of the procedure.”
Concluding matters Judge Kilrane said, “Minor issues are not going to be allowed in this Court and from recent decisions, in the High Court either. Excess alcohol is becoming a serious issue.”
Judge Kilrane imposed a conviction, a €400 fine and a three year driving disqualification.