BY now, everyone should be aware that drinking alcohol and driving are two incompatible activities that, when mixed, puts people’s lives in danger.
But alcohol-impaired driving will also get the driver into serious trouble with the authorities, and will become a criminal offence if the quantum of alcohol exceeds 0.6 mg/litre in a breath test and 1.2 mg/litre in blood.
Additionally, one faces an automatic driving ban and a fine and where there is careless driving, refusal to provide a specimen for analysis or an accident causing injury or death to other people, prison terms.
Statistically, 98% of cases end up with the court passing a guilty verdict and it for this reason that most lawyers advise their clients to plead guilty to benefit from a reduced sentence (one third off, which translates normally into a eight to 12 month ban and a €800 – €1,000 fine).
But then, there is always a departure from the norm. The remaining 2% of drivers will pluck up courage, challenge the prosecutor’s offer and win! This is how some did it:
- A driver who had been charged with criminal drink driving provided a medical report certifying that, whilst under the effects of a drug called Manidon, a breath test reading of 0.63% mg/litre should read 0.53% mg/litre. This meant that he fell under the threshold to be criminally prosecuted and so, the court had to acquit him, even though the certificate was issued two days after the event and did not certify that the driver had taken the prescription drug on the day, only that he was being treated for it!
- A driver was found in a vehicle that happened to be diagonally parked (incorrectly as it happened). When the police ordered him to come out of the car, he stumbled and fell over. Against the prosecutor’s opinion, the lawyer acting in this instance argued that there was no evidence that he was driving and thus, the court acquitted.
- A driver that was found guilty of driving while intoxicated and had been banned from driving by the criminal courts was later stopped by the police. The courts acquitted him of a further criminal charge because the lawyer successfully argued that formal notification of the ban was not conducted properly, but by means of ordinary registered post.
- A driver who had had an accident left the scene and went home. Later, he returned drunk and invoked that the alcohol had been ingested after the accident. The prosecutor was not able to demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that the driver had been drunk whilst causing the accident and the court had no option but to pass an acquittal sentence.
Still, better not drink and drive.