Saturday 1 October 2016

Woman said she drank only after crashing car


Published 01/01/2013 | 11:01

A MOTORIST who claimed she was over the limit only because she drank vodka after turning her car over, rather than before, failed to convince Judge Gerard Haughton.

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A drink drive conviction, with the mandatory two year disqualification from driving, was imposed on 25-year-old Elizabeth Furlong from 18 Father Murphy Close in Enniscorthy when she came to court just before Christmas.

The case was taken after a 1998 Carlow-registered Volkswagen Polo was found on its roof in middle of a road in Drumgoold early on November 23, 2011. Ms. Furlong was the registered owner of the abandoned vehicle and she was traced to her aunt's house in Hillview Heights.

Garda Sergeant Mick Morrissey met her there shortly after 1.20 a.m., sitting in the kitchen, a number of wounds visible including a severe one on her leg. Before the ambulance arrived, she told the sergeant that she had been driving the Volkswagen 'about an hour' earlier.

She explained to the sergeant that she had walked across the fields from the scene of the crash to her aunt's home. A blood sample taken by a doctor in Wexford General at 2.26 a.m. showed that she had an illegal concentration of alcohol in her system.

In the witness box, a tearful defendant said she had two shandies on the evening in question before deciding to visit her mother's grave at the cemetery in Garrynisk. She spoke of first buying six cans of Budweiser and a naggin of vodka shortly before closing time at the Centre off-licence before setting off to the graveyard.

She described swerving to avoid a dog before her car came to grief. She put the time of the accident at around 10.35 p.m. After the Polo came to a halt, she was unable to find her phone, though the vodka came to hand and she said she drank most of it while she battled through fields, walking in cow dung. She added that she threw the spirit bottle away.

'My head was all over the shop,' she admitted. She added that she had been scarred for life and pointed out a mark on her forehead.

Judge Gerard Haughton noted that, in order to convict, he must be convinced that Ms. Furlong had been driving within the three hour period before the blood sample was taken - i.e. after 11.26 p.m. By her own account from the witness box, she was outside this time frame, as she had estimated the crash was almost an hour earlier.

However, the court found it difficult to credit that the car could be lying upside down in the road for more than two and a half hours before Garda O'Keeffe found it there without attracting more attention from the passing public.

He was not inclined to believe either that she had consumed a naggin of vodka so he recorded the conviction, fining her €500.

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