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Drink-drive cases at risk over Irish language ruling

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Tests: Despite the emphasis on drink driving, only 7,697 people were prosecuted last year for being over the limit

Tests: Despite the emphasis on drink driving, only 7,697 people were prosecuted last year for being over the limit

PA

Tests: Despite the emphasis on drink driving, only 7,697 people were prosecuted last year for being over the limit

Hundreds of motorists on drink-driving charges could have their prosecutions thrown out following a ruling that a breath alcohol test statement is not valid if it is in English only.

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.

Solicitor Michael Staines argued in the District Court that a statement printed from a breath testing machine, called an Evidenzer, was not valid because it was in English only.

The DPP maintained that it was not required to print the form in two languages.

However, District Court Judge Conal Gibbons ruled the document had not been "duly completed" and asked the High Court for confirmation.

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

Chairperson of road safety group Parc, Susan Gray, told the Irish Independent that the news will be "very distressing" for families who have lost loved ones to drink drivers.

"It is very worrying," said Ms Gray, adding that the group raised the issue with Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe last January.

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

Irish Independent