DPP appeal opens into breathalyser forms

Court of Appeal told 1,400 drink-driving prosecutions are being held up by ruling

District Court judge Colin Gibbons ruled the document had not been “duly completed.”

District Court judge Colin Gibbons ruled the document had not been “duly completed.”

 

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

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) opened an appeal yesterday against the ruling.

Counsel for the DPP, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, told the three-judge court 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.

Not valid

District Court judge Colin Gibbons ruled the document had not been “duly completed” and he asked the High Court for confirmation.

Mr Justice Séamus Noonan agreed and said a failure to reproduce an entire half of the prescribed form – the Irish language “half” – meant it was not evidence and could not be admitted.

Mr McGuinness told the Court of Appeal the trial judge erred in holding that there was one schedule with one form. It was patently clear, he said, that what was provided for was two schedules with a form in each or either language. It was “an error” to say the whole of it was one form, he said.

Barrister James Dwyer, for the DPP, said 1,400 alleged drink-driving prosecutions were being held up across the country due to the ruling. Mr Justice George Birmingham said the court would reserve judgment.