Ruling holds up 1,400 drink-drive prosecutions

Lawyers for the State have told the Court of Appeal that 1,400 drink-driving prosecutions are being held up by a ruling that breathalyser test statments were not valid if printed in the English language only.

The DPP opened an appeal yesterday against a ruling which found that a failure to produce the other half of a statement showing breath-alcohol levels — in Irish —was not evidence at all.

Counsel for the DPP, Diarmaid McGuinness, told the three-judge court that the case had its roots in a road traffic prosecution of Mihai Avadenei, 29, with an address in Swords, Co Dublin.

Mr McGuinness said it related to a breath test machine, Evidenzer Irl, which reveals the levels of alcohol in a person’s breath and produces two identical statements for immediate signature by the person and a garda. The statement would then be admissible under the road traffic act, he said.

However, during during District Court proceedings in 2014, solicitor Michael Staines, for Mr Avadenei, argued that the statement produced following the Evidenzer test was not valid because it was in English only.

Mr McGuinness told the three-judge court that the regulations did not provide for a single schedule with a single form. Rather, the regulations provided for a form in each language whereby the statement can be provided in Irish and English.

Mr Justice George Birmingham said the court would reserve judgment.


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