“When the drink is in the wit is out despite attempts by civilians to warn him,” said Judge Kevin P Kilrane prior to convicting Robert Ryan, 2 Castlegrange Green, Swords, Co Dublin of drink driving at last week’s sitting of Carrick-on-Shannon District Court.
Giving evidence against the defendant, Sgt Tony Byrne said at 12.04am on July 29, 2018 while on foot patrol at Main Street, Carrick-on-Shannon he was approached by a member of the public who said door staff from Murtagh’s were trying to prevent a member of the public from driving a vehicle.
“I could see a member of the security staff talking to the sole occupant of the vehicle in the driver’s seat.”
Sgt Byrne said as he approached the vehicle he observed it move forward three to four metres before it then moved backwards. Sgt Byrne said he was unsure if the car rolled back or if it had been reversed.
Sgt Byrne asked Mr Ryan to turn off the engine and remove the key from the ignition.
Mr Ryan was asked for his driving licence with Sgt Byrne saying: “He spent a number of minutes fumbling looking for his driving licence.”
While speaking to the driver, Sgt Byrne detected a “strong, almost overpowering smell of alcohol from his breath.”
Sgt Byrne formed the opinion the defendant had consumed an intoxicant to such an extent as to be in an unfit state to be in control of a mechanically propelled vehicle and he was subsequently conveyed to Carrick-on-Shannon garda station where he was introduced to the member in charge, Garda Des Flanagan.
After a 20 minute period of observation to ensure the defendant took nil-by-mouth, Mr Ryan was then taken to the doctor’s room for the purpose of providing two specimens of breath by breathing into the evidenzer machine.
Mr Ryan complied with the request and provided the first sample at 12.54am and the second three minutes later.
The result of the test revealed Mr Ryan’s breath contained an alcohol level of 81mg/100ml and Mr Ryan was released at 1.15am.
During cross-examination from the defendant's barrister it was suggested that Sgt Byrne had not monitored the defendant fully during the 20 minute period of observation.
The defending barrister said: “Mr Ryan instructs me you had phone calls to make and were in and out during the 20 minute period of observation.”
In reply Sgt Byrne said: “No, I didn’t take any phone calls. I observed him for 20 minutes.” The defence made an application on the grounds that “there was not sufficient evidence of driving.” He also pointed to the fact that “the garda was not assisted by a roadside test.”
In reply Insp Frank Finn said: “Sgt Byrne said in evidence he drove three to four metres and then rolled back. He went to the window and asked him to turn off the engine and remove the keys.”
The defence also queried the 20 minute period of observation.
Judge Kilrane remarked: “I was expecting an objection to the evidence of the garda being informed by a member of the public as hearsay evidence but it is admitted.”
In relation to the fact that no roadside breath test was conducted Judge Kilrane said: “If he had administered the test under section nine, criticism might be leveled at him for not waiting for 20 minutes as the test would have been conducted outside a licensed premises.
“An honest opinion, reasonably formed, is all that is required. I am against you on all points raised.”
No evidence was offered by Mr Ryan, a 46-year-old manager of a newsagents in Dublin.
Concluding matters Judge Kilrane said: “The law in relation to this is very harsh. The legislator says it has to be harsh because it has to send out a message.
“The danger is if you bring a car on a night out celebrating one might be tempted to drive.”
Noting that the reading was “very high, bordering on four times the legal limit,” Judge Kilrane imposed a conviction for drink driving, fined him €300 and disqualified him from driving for a period of three years which is postponed until January 15, 2020.
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