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30/07/2021

Leitrim drink driving case dismissed over location of the checkpoint

MLA asks Lord Chief Justice to review sentence in football hooligans' case

A case of alleged drunk driving against a Drumsna man was dismissed when the judge ruled the area the man was stopped in by Gardai at a mandatory intoxicant test (MIT) checkpoint was outside the area authorised for that specific checkpoint
Mark Moran, Crow Hill, Drumsna, pleaded not guilty to driving with excess alcohol in his breath on March 7, 2020 at Drumsna, Co Leitrim.
Sgt John O’Reilly said he stopped the defendant at 8.05pm on that date and made a roadside requirement for a sample of his breath which produced a fail.
Mr Moran was arrested and taken to Carrick-on-Shannon Garda Station where he gave a sample of breath which showed a concentration of 45mcg of alcohol per 100mls of breath.
In cross examination by Liam O’Connell BL, instructed by Colm Conway, solicitor, Sgt O’Reilly said he had an MIT authorisation for 8pm to 9pm on that date for Drumsna, in the vicinity of the roundabout (at the flyover), for traffic in all directions.
The checkpoint where Mr Moran was stopped was in the centre of the village of Drumsna.
Judge Kevin Kilrane asked the sergeant why the checkpoint was set up in that part of the village when the authorisation was for the area at the roundabout.
Sgt O’Reilly said he was of the opinion that because the checkpoint was in the centre of the village it would encompass the area of the roundabout which he said was an extension of the village of Drumsna. He also said the checkpoint was set up in the village for safety and lighting reasons.
Mr O’Connell referred to Section 10 of the Road Safety Act which deals with the authorisation in regard to establishing a checkpoint.
He said it would be intended that the section would be strictly complied with and that a specific place would be designated for a mandatory alcohol checkpoint to be established.
Inspector Emmet Treacy argued that there must be some latitude given to the setting up of authorised checkpoints. He said in this case, the sergeant set up the checkpoint in the village which was in the vicinity of the roundabout and on the same road.
Judge Kilrane said he knew the area well and said there was a very specific reason the checkpoint would be set up at that roundabout as it would capture a large amount of vehicles coming from different directions.
He said where the sergeant set up, in the middle of the village, would have missed a huge amount of traffic as it was on the old N4 near the bridge.
Judge Kilrane said there is power vested in the Gardai in that they can, within reason, alter a checkpoint. However, he said the exact wording of the MIT was ‘in the vicinity of the roundabout.’
He said the map in court showed the checkpoint to have been set up some 764m from the roundabout.
“It’s completely contrary to the intention of the MIT,” he stated.
Judge Kilrane said the wording of the authorisation was quite specific that the checkpoint would be set up in the vicinity of the roundabout for traffic in all directions.
“The checkpoint was not set up there, or near it,” the judge said, and dismissed the case.

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