herald

Saturday 19 August 2017

Drink-drive cases delayed over Irish language row

Hundreds of cases of alleged drink-driving have been adjourned in district courts over a legal challenge brought by a Romanian national who was not given details of a breath test in Irish
Hundreds of cases of alleged drink-driving have been adjourned in district courts over a legal challenge brought by a Romanian national who was not given details of a breath test in Irish

HUNDREDS of cases of alleged drink-driving have been adjourned in district courts over a legal challenge brought by a Romanian national who was not given details of a breath test in Irish.

Mihai Avadenei (28), of Lioscianan, Swords, Co Dublin, had his case supported by a district judge who has now referred it to the High Court.

Fianna Fail senator Brian O Domhnaill is among hundreds of motorists awaiting the outcome of the case, which is due to be heard on June 26.

Mr Avadenei was stopped at 12.50am last April 21 at Wolfe Tone Quay in Dublin by Gda Francis McMahon who alleged he had been driving at 80kmh in a 50kmh zone.

Suspecting Mr Avandenei of drink-driving, Gda McMahon arrested him and took him to Store Street Garda Station.

Case records show that although Mr Avandenei had good English, an interpreter was provided.

A subsequent breath test carried out by Gda Colm McCluskey gave a reading of 52 microgrammes of alcohol per 100ml of breath. The drink-drive limit is 22 microgrammes.

Gda McCluskey and Mr Avandenei both signed the computer print-out.

Mr Avandenei was charged with drink-driving and released on bail.

He appeared before Dublin District Court last July, when his solicitor Michael Staines argued that he should have been given a read-out of his breath test from the intoxlyser machine in both Irish and English.

Mr Staines said the print-out submitted to the court was not a duly completed statement within the meaning of the 2010 Road Traffic Act as it was only in English.

He submitted that the rules providing for the form of such statements required them to be in English and Irish.

Therefore, he argued, the document was not a duly completed statement and not admissible in evidence.

In a submission to the High Court, Judge Gibbons said he sided with the accused in the case, but asked for a ruling from the higher court.

"Gda McCluskey, who is trained in the use of the apparatus referred to in the Act, stated that the device could produce an S13 statement in both English and Irish," said the judge.

"It is incomprehensible that when this device . . . was created for measuring the alcohol in a person's breath and put into use it was not done so in compliance with the legal requirement.

"This matter is not about there being no prejudice to the defendant, it is about an extraordinary situation that this equipment was put into use in the manner described.

"I believe there is prejudice to the defendant in that if this situation is allowed to continue, it seriously undermines the rule of law in the State and all concepts of fairness and justice."

At Letterkenny District Court yesterday, Judge Paul Kelly adjourned another case to await the outcome of the High Court ruling.

The DPP is challenging the Gibbons ruling.

hnews@herald.ie

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