Man in ditch after crash avoids drink drive conviction
A VAN owner found lying in the road near his crashed van escaped a drink drive conviction when the circumstances were considered at Wexford District Court.
Steven Murray (38) from Haresmead, Foulksmills, proved to have more than four times the legal limit for alcohol in his system on the night in question.
He was found lying in a ditch at Foulksmills in the early hours of September 25 last year in an intoxicated condition, with his head out on the public road.
However, the prosecution was dismissed by Judge Gerard Haughton as the evidence failed to pinpoint the time at which the defendant was driving.
The crash woke local resident Michael Sinnott, who attended court to recall how he heard a loud bang and looked out from his bedroom.
He saw a man getting out of the stricken van, which had come to a halt on the road opposite to the house after hitting a wall. The man appeared to be ‘a bit disoriented’ before he got back behind the wheel but the van would not start.
He re-emerged and walked down the road.
The watching householder called the gardaí who arrived at the scene and examined the crashed Longford-registered Ford Transit. It was registered to Steven Murray of Haresmead and it turned out that he was not far away.
Garda Tanya Keating gave evidence of how he was discovered in the ditch.
He was extremely intoxicated, she recalled, giving off a strong smell of alcohol.
He had difficulty speaking but was able to tell her that he had been driving the Transit.
He was arrested and brought to the barracks in New Ross where his breath sample gave a reading of 95 mgs.
The legal limit is 22 mgs. The test was conducted by Garda Sergeant Richard Daly who reported that the suspect refused to sign the certificate which was printed off by the evidenzer.
Defending barrister David Staunton, instructed by solicitor Gerry Flynn, accepted that his client was clearly and demonstrably intoxicated on the night.
Counsel successfully argued that there was a doubt over the time of driving.
However, Haughton convicted Murray, who works in renewable energy at sites all over the country of failing to sign the certificate, handing down a fine of €400.