Sunday 25 September 2016

Government rushes through new law to close drink-drive loophole after Irish-language ruling

Published 22/09/2015 | 10:35

High Court Judge Mr Justice Seamus Noonan yesterday said there was
High Court Judge Mr Justice Seamus Noonan yesterday said there was "no ambiguity" in a law which says that gardaí - when performing the Evidenzer alcohol breath test - must supply statements in Irish and in English

The Government is rushing through emergency legislation to close a loophole in the law that could have seen hundreds of motorists on drink-driving charges have their prosecutions thrown out.

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On the advice of the Attorney General’s Office, Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe has signed into law a replacement ‘Statutory Instrument’ which now provides that breath alcohol test statements may be produced in either the English or the Irish language.

“This was always the objective of the legislation,” Mr Donohoe said.

“In the interests of road safety, I have moved immediately to provide the new legislation deemed necessary regarding the form of the statements to be provided under section 13 of the Road Traffic Act 2010.”

High Court Judge Mr Justice Seamus Noonan yesterday said there was "no ambiguity" in a law which says that gardaí - when performing an Evidenzer alcohol breath test - must supply statements in Irish and in English.

The decision centred on a case involving Mihai Avadenei who was accused of a drink-driving offence.

His solicitor, Michael Staines, argued in the District Court that the printed statement produced following the Evidenzer test conducted on his client was not valid because it was in English only.

Statutory Instrument 541 of 2011 sets out the prescribed form and manner of statements that must be provided in both English and Irish.

The DPP argued in the District Court proceedings it brought against Mr Avadenei (29), of Lioscianan, Swords, Co Dublin, that it was not required to print the form in two languages.

However, District Court Judge Colin Gibbons ruled that the document had not been "duly completed" and asked the High Court for a confirmation of his finding.

Under the Road Traffic Act 2010, Mr Avadenei faced up to six months in jail and/or a €5,000 fine for the offence.

It is understood scores of similar cases were on hold pending the decision.

Evidenzers, which cost around €10,000 per machine, were rolled out nationally three years ago to help crack down on drink-driving.

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