Drink-driving case dismissed over humidity in Garda station

A MOTORIST who was found to be more than two-and-a-half times over the legal drink limit, had the case against him dismissed because of the humidity level in the Garda station where he was breath tested.

Gardaí say they will be asking the DPP to consider the ruling of Judge Eamon O’Brien at Rathkeale District Court.

Garda Alan O’Donnell gave evidence of stopping Mike Nash, 39, of Gortroe, Newcastle West, at 1.40am on February 17 at Main Street, Rathkeale.

He got a strong smell of drink from Mr Nash who was slurring his words.

The defendant stumbled as he got out of the car and Garda O’Donnell formed the opinion that he was incapable of having proper control of the car.

After being brought to Newcastle West Garda Station, Garda Jerry O’Sullivan, who is a trained operator of the intoxilyser machine, took a breath sample.

The sample showed 58/100 which was well over the limit.

Charles O’Connor, solicitor for Mr Nash, read from a publication Drunken Driving and the Law which stated: “The ambient temperature may be between 15-35 degrees centigrade and the ambient relative humidity between 30% and 90%.”

The court was told that the humidity in the room where the breath test was taken was 26%. Mr O’Connor submitted this was outside the permitted level.

Supt Joe Roe said the extract read out by Mr O’Connor contained the word “may” and it was little more than a commercial publication.

The machine was working properly and the room was air-conditioned, he said.

Mr O’Connor said the safeguards in the training manual, which was used by gardaí in Garda stations, were not adhered to.

Judge O’Brien said he had a doubt and dismissed the case against Mr Nash.

Supt Roe said he would contact the DPP seeking a possible appeal as road safety was such a serious matter.

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