A judge has said an 18-year-old Leaving Cert student guilty of drunk-cycling "could have caused a terrible accident".
Judge Patrick Durcan made his remark at Ennis District Court after Sylvanus Akpaku from Ghana admitted the new offence of drunk-cycling.
Akpaku, of Church View, Ennis, pleaded guilty to riding a bicycle under the influence.
Insp Tom Kennedy said yesterday that in his 12 years of prosecuting offences, it was the first time he had come across anyone charged with drunk-cycling. Those convicted face fines of up to €2,000.
Insp Kennedy said that at around 11pm on September 13, Gda Eimear McDonagh saw Akpaku cycling in an erratic manner in Barefield, Ennis.
Akpaku, a student at Ennis Community College, was wearing no reflective gear, and when stopped by gardai he was slurring his words and there was a smell of alcohol from him.
The new charge was the first such to come before Judge Durcan, and he told Insp Kennedy: "I don't think I can disqualify him from cycling, can I?"
The inspector said: "It would be funny if it wasn't so serious as there are cyclists and pedestrians being killed on the road because they are not lit up and, in some cases, are under the influence of alcohol."
He said Akpaku was "weaving in and out of the hard-shoulder and could have caused an accident".
Solicitor Tara Godfrey said that what her client did by cycling while drunk with no reflective gear "was dangerous and foolish". She said he admitted he had drunk cider after hearing his grandfather had died.
Judge Durcan told him: "You could have caused a terrible accident."
He then told the court: "Mr Akpaku is a very impressive young man and I don't want to criminalise him. I will strike out the charge."
He warned Akpaku: "Don't let this happen again."
Conor Faughnan of the AA welcomed the prosecution, saying: "Gone are the days when a cyclist could get hammered and wobble home on the bike. Cyclists who do that today are putting their lives in danger."