herald

Friday 19 October 2018

Bus driver was nine times over limit and slumped over wheel

The bus driver was stopped after a report was made to the traffic corps. Photo: Collins
The bus driver was stopped after a report was made to the traffic corps. Photo: Collins

A 65-year-old bus driver was nine times over the limit when he was discovered by gardai slumped over the wheel.

The driver was reported to gardai traffic corps for driving erratically shortly before 7pm on Tuesday northbound on the M7 near Newbridge, Co Kildare.

His single-decker bus - operated by a private company and with no passengers on-board - had pulled into a lay-by when gardai arrived.

The driver was subsequently arrested and taken to Naas Garda Station and charged in relation to the incident.

He is due to appear at Naas District Court later this month on drink-driving charges.

The Herald can reveal that the driver, from the west of the country, has not previously come to garda attention.

Airport

Earlier in the evening, he had dropped a number of people to Dublin Airport on his bus and then drove southbound on the M50 and then onto the M7.

It is understood that the bus driver was intending to stay in a hotel in the north Co Kildare area as he travelled southbound.

Sources have revealed that gardai believe the driver "missed his turn" on the motorway and then took the next exit before driving back northbound in an allegedly erratic fashion.

It can be revealed that concerned members of the public contacted gardai in relation to the bus driver's "very strange driving" and when officers arrived at the scene he was found to be "completely drunk and slumped over his wheel".

Last night sources said gardai were investigating whether the driver had actually been over the drink driving limit when he earlier dropped a number of passengers at Dublin Airport.

"In ways this is a terrifying situation - it is a miracle that no one was seriously injured," a source said.

"It was completely reckless behaviour on his part, he was drunk out of his mind."

Last night it was unclear where the bus driver had earlier picked up the passengers whom he had brought to Dublin Airport or where exactly he had intended to stay in Co Kildare.

Drink driving limits are lower for professional drivers than for standard motorists.

The legal limit for novices, learners and professional drivers is 9mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.

It is understood the bus driver had a reading of 84mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath, making him nine times over the limit.

Arrested

Gardai tweeted about the incident saying the Naas Roads Policing Unit had arrested the driver, a man in his 60s, after they stopped the bus at 7pm on Tuesday.

In a completely separate incident in January, a bus driver was arrested for testing positive for alcohol at a garda checkpoint.

Gardai carried out a mandatory checkpoint on the M1 motorway between Swords and Balbriggan on Saturday morning, January 6.

The driver of the bus was arrested after he failed the roadside test.

It's believed that up to 17 passengers were on the bus at the time and were left stranded for up to two hours until a replacement bus arrived.

During that checkpoint, 246 motorists were randomly tested for alcohol and four for drugs.

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