A Portlaoise man caught drink driving with a blood reading verging on alcohol poisoning has been told he is not a fit person to hold a driving licence.
Joseph Flanagan (49), Dunamaise, Portlaoise, appeared before the circuit court appealing prison sentences he was given in the district court for two separate incidents of drink driving.
On May 10, 2017, at Ballydavis, Portlaoise, he was detected with 227mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. For this, he was sentenced to three months in jail and disqualified from driving for three years. He was also disqualified for two years for having no insurance.
At the same district court in January, he was given an additional sentence of three months in jail and disqualified for six years, for drink driving on November 6 last year.
On this occasion, he was detected driving with 78mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.
The appellant had two previous convictions.
At the recent appeal in the circuit court, Judge Keenan Johnson said the blood reading was verging on alcohol poisoning.
Taking the witness box, the appellant apologised to the court.
“My actions were inexcusable, I was just in a bad place at the time,” he said.
Remarked Judge Johnson: “By the grace of God you didn’t kill anyone. A car becomes a lethal weapon.”
The appellant replied that he had gone six months without taking a drink and would never drink alcohol again. He also said he would no longer be driving.
The court heard that he began drinking to excess after his father passed away and legal issues placed a financial strain on him.
He claimed to have had to pay out €30,000 in 11 months after his sisters contested their father’s will.
He said he sold all his livestock, some 34 cattle, and handed all the money straight over to the solicitors and barristers.
Judge Johnson said these were serious matters, with one reading bordering on alcohol poisoning and the other three times over the limit, and repeated that it was just by the grace of God that nobody ha d been killed.
Saying that a prison sentence was warranted, Judge Johnson increased the district court sentence of three months on each charge of drink driving to five months, to run consecutive, giving a total of ten months.
The first five month sentence was suspended for seven years, on condition the appellant enter into a peace bond and donate €500 to a charity.
The second sentence was adjourned to June 27 next, to assess the appellant’s suitability for community service. The judge recommended 200 hours’ community service.
The judge also imposed a 20-year driving disqualification, ruling that the appellant was not fit to drive a car.