A Mountmellick man who challenged a drink driving charge on a number of technicalities has been fined and put off the road for three years.
Garda Niall Byrne said that at 1.55am on the morning of July 10 this year, he observed a car on Main Street Portlaoise outside Mezza Pizza.
The car reversed into a parked car, then drove forward into another parked vehicle. The first struck vehicle suffered no damage, but the second car was damaged on the front driver’s side wing.
The driver of the car then attempted to continue on, but Garda Byrne blocked his path with the patrol car.
When he spoke to the driver, Thomas Blake (44), Acragar, Mountmellick, Garda Byrne said he got a strong smell of alcohol and the accused’s words were slurred.
Garda Byrne told the court that Blake said he had drunk approximately ten pints of Carlsberg.
A reading at Portlaoise Garda Station showed he had 76mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.
Garda Ian Doolan, who operated the intoxilyzer at the garda station, gave evidence that after the machine printed out two copies of the section 13 statements containing the breath reading, he signed both and handed them to the accused to sign.
However, defence, Mr David Staunton BL, said that in the garda’s original statement, Garda Doolan had said he handed the section 13s to the accused first, and then the garda signed them.
Garda Doolan accepted that he had made a mistake in his original statement.
Mr Staunton then made a submission to the court, saying that the law states the section 13 statement must be signed by the garda first.
He said the court could not be satisfied that proper procedure had been followed.
He also made submission on the requirement to print out the section 13s in English or Irish, and questioned a delay in the accused’s detention on the night, suggesting there had been “a breakdown in communication” between the gardaí.
Judge Aeneas McCarthy ruled against Mr Staunton’s submissions, and convicted the accused.
Blake was fined €300 and disqualified from driving for three years.
Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.