Friday 19 January 2018

Decision on drink-drive ruling appeal in two weeks

Claire Loftus, Director of Public Prosecutions
Claire Loftus, Director of Public Prosecutions

Greg Harkin

The Director of Public Prosecutions will decide in two weeks' time whether or not to appeal a court ruling which could lead to the dismissal of hundreds of drink-drive cases.

Claire Loftus will decide by October 16 on whether or not to appeal a High Court ruling which said suspects should have been given print-outs of breath test results in both Irish and English.

The Irish Independent has learned that gardaí are continuing to follow the same procedures as before the ruling, but are now protected by emergency legislation passed last week.

However, senior gardaí believe officers were following correct procedures all along and are hoping the ruling of Mr Justice Noonan is appealed to the Supreme Court.

Suspects were all given the option of seeing their breath test results in English or Irish. All of them also signed two print-outs accepting the results.

The intoxlyser machines are incapable of printing results in both languages. Once the language setting was chosen by the suspect and inputted by a garda, it can only print one set of results in either English or Irish.

Road safety campaigners say that only the consolidation of all road traffic legislation into one act will rectify loopholes in those laws.

"We have unearthed a whole raft of inadequacies in recent times which together have diminished our confidence in the ability of this State to sanction those guilty of unacceptable practices and drink driving," said Susan Gray from the pressure group Parc (People Against Road Carnage).

"We are outraged that many hundreds of drivers with pending drink-driving cases who may now avoid criminal convictions and driving bans all because of a point of law."

She said the group had monitored one case involving a suspect who allegedly failed drink-drive tests on three separate occasions and who may now escape a criminal conviction.

"Many others who have already been convicted on the strength of breath-alcohol certificates printed only in English could also have their convictions overturned," said Ms Gray.

The motorist who took the test case is due back at the High Court on October 16 for a costs hearing. Romanian national Mihai Avadanei (29), from Swords, Co Dublin, is alleged to have had a reading twice the legal drink-drive limit when he was stopped by gardaí on April 21 last year at Ellis Quay in Dublin.

A costs hearing in the case is due that day and Ms Loftus will indicate whether or not the ruling will be appealed.

Irish Independent

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