No evidence woman four times over drink limit in Limerick town was driving

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Judge Patricia Harney

A JUDGE has reserved a decision in a case against a woman found to be four times over the legal alcohol driving limit after hearing that no-one had asked her if she had been driving the car on the date in question or identified her as being the driver.

Before Kilmallock District Court was Bernadette O’Dwyer (64) of Turtulla, Thurles, Tipperary.

Garda Breda Cowan told Judge Patricia Harney that when she approached the parked car, Ms O’Dwyer was sitting in the driver’s seat on the hard shoulder at Blossom Hill, Rathkeale.

“Her speech was slurred and I noted an empty Huzzar vodka bottle in the car,” the Garda said.

She arrested Ms O’Dwyer on suspicion of drink driving but could not test her on the intoxilyzer in the Garda station as it was malfunctioning.

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A doctor was called and Ms O’Dwyer provided a urine sample, which when tested showed she had 271 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine.

The legal driving limit for an experienced driver is 67 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres.

Her defending barrister, Martin Dully, asked Garda Cowan whether she had observed Ms O’Dwyer actually driving the car and whether she had asked the accused woman if she had been driving, to which the Garda answered “no” to both questions.

Another driver who was called by the prosecution to give evidence could only say that he saw the car stopped at the roadside and “a blonde woman” sitting in the driver’s seat. He said he could not identify that woman.

Mr Dully also raised a legal issue concerning the Garda asking Ms O’Dwyer to give a sample, as the doctor had arrived more than three hours after she was initially brought to the station and a requirement made to give a sample.

“Any concentration would be inadmisible after three hours,” he explained.

Inspector Gearoid Thompson contested that Ms O’Dwyer “produced her driving licence when asked for it at the scene by Garda Cowan” adding that “she didn’t at any stage say she wasn’t driving”.

Judge Harney said she would reserve judgement and give her decision on January 10.