A DRINK driving charge has been dismissed in respect of a motorist who collided into the back of another car at the Clonmacken toll booth.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly agreed with the defence for 50-year-old Richard Lang - of Richmond Hill, Bray, County Wicklow - that no evidence presented in court proved he had been at the wheel in the three hours before he provided a breath sample.
At Limerick District Court, Mr Lang denied driving while under the influence on September 17, 2011.
Garda Yohan Hunt said a report had been received of a collision at the toll booth at around 11.30am. He had detected a strong smell of liquor from Mr Lang, whose speech was slurred. Mr Lang was arrested and a sample of his breath taken at 1pm read 55 micograms of alcohol per 100 mililitres of breath.
Mr Lang told Garda Hunt that he was bending down for some change when the collision occurred. He had been at a party in Lahinch the night before, which had finished at midnight and at which he had “a couple of pints”.
Aisling Carr, Holmes O’Malley Sexton, for Mr Lang, made an application to have the charge dismissed, arguing her client had been standing at the roadside when Garda Hunt arrived. While Garda Hunt referred to having received a report of a collision at 11.30am, no evidence of a time of driving had been presented. “We can’t adduce whether he was driving in the three-hour period” before a sample was given, Ms Carr said.
Inspector Paul Reidy said it was “reasonable to assume” Mr Lang had been driving just before the collision was reported.
“This is a court of law; not a court of assumption,” replied Judge O’Kelly.
He continued that Garda Hunt had taken the unusual step of taking a memo at the roadside of his conversation with Mr Lang - in which he had made “the usual observations about slurred speech and so on” but had “not asked the pertinent question of what time the driving took place”.
Judge O’Kelly granted Ms Carr’s application and dismissed the charge.