A woman who was stopped by gardaí while test-driving a car has been disqualified for having no insurance.
Michelle Muller told Bantry District Court in Co. Cork she had only been in the car a matter of minutes and had assumed she was covered to drive it in September last year.
Ms Muller, from Inchinagown, Coomhola in Bantry, Cork, had a previous conviction from last year for driving without insurance.
Judge James McNulty heard from a prosecuting Garda that at 12.30pm on September 7 last he stopped the Peugeot hatchback near Bantry.
He said Ms Muller told him she had asked a local car dealer a week previous if she could buy a car and was test-driving it. She did not have insurance and a certificate later produced at Bantry Garda Station did not cover her for the day in question.
The insurance certificate was in the name of a car dealer but it required the insurance holder to accompany a driver.
Regarding whether she was insured or not, Ms Muller, 49, told the court: “I did not even think about it.” She had presumed she was covered by the car dealer.
The defendant said she was nervous when stopped by gardai and had tried to ring the car dealership at the time, but there was no signal. “I was literally in it for 15 minutes when I was stopped,” she told the judge.
However, Judge McNulty said Ms Muller had “disregarded her civic obligations” and could also have been appraised of the situation regarding cover by the dealer.
A letter was produced in court from the dealer stating that Ms Muller had taken the car for a test drive on the day, but the date given in it was two weeks after the actual incident.
“It is a poor offering, to be frank,” the judge said. “We don’t administer justice by correspondence.”
Ms Muller works as a carer and said she needed her car to travel to work. However, as it was her second conviction, a two-year disqualification was mandatory.
Ms Muller was homeless and effectively living in her car when first disqualified. The judge said he was sympathetic and was glad she had emerged from a chaotic period and was now working, but that the court’s hands were tied as to the disqualification.
He fined her €500 and fixed recognisance for her appeal at her own bond of €100, no cash required.