State must pay costs over breathalyser challenge

Counsel claimed breath-test statement was not valid because it was in English only

The State has been ordered to pay High Court costs over a challenge to the validity of breathalyser test statements if printed in English only.

The case has its roots in the road traffic prosecution of Mihai Avadenei (29), with an address in Swords, Co Dublin.

During District Court proceedings in 2014, solicitor Michael Staines, for Mr Avadenei, argued that the statement produced from a breath-test machine was not valid because it was in English only.

District Court judge Colin Gibbons ruled that the failure to produce the Irish half of the statement meant that it was not "duly completed". He asked the High Court for confirmation.


High Court judge Seamus Noonan agreed with the ruling and ordered that the person providing a breath-test specimen "be supplied immediately by a member of An Garda Síochána with two identical statements in the prescribed form".

Mr Justice Noonan said a failure to reproduce an entire half of the prescribed form - the Irish language "half'" - meant the speciman was not evidence and could not be admitted.

In May, the Court of Appeal overturned the ruling, with Mr Justice John Edwards holding that the "deviation was purely one of form rather than substance".

What was omitted was the repetition of the information in Irish, he said.


The DPP had sought costs for the proceedings in the High Court as well as in the Court of Appeal.

However, Mr Justice John Edwards affirmed in the Court of Appeal on Thursday the High Court’s earlier award for costs in favour of Mr Avadenei - which had been stayed pending the appeal.

Mr Justice Edwards said it was at the DPP’s behest that the breathalyser case be sent forward to the High Court for clarification, rather than at Mr Avadenei’s request.

Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Alan Mahon both said they agreed with Mr Justice Edwards.