A Romanian man who undertook three cars on the hard shoulder of a busy Longford road last November has been fined €500 and banned from driving for three years.
Dumitru Danila (29), 13 St James' Court, Echelin Street, Dublin 8, pleaded not guilty to a charge of dangerous driving at Minard, Longford on November 23 2016.
The court heard Mr Danila had been travelling in the direction of Longford town along the main N4 carriageway when the incident unfolded.
It was also revealed the entire episode had been recorded on an independent witnesse’s dashcam device.
Judge Seamus Hughes was further told that due to the presence of oncoming traffic on the N4, it would have been impossible for Mr Dumitru to carry out a safe overtaking manoeuvre.
Garda Lynn said when Mr Danila was eventually pulled in at Kilsallagh, near Edgeworthstown he told gardai he believed the stretch of road to be a dual carriageway.
He also believed the behaviour of Mr Danila on the day in question constituted a breach of road traffic laws.
Stating that Mr Danila also passed the entrances to two private dwellings and a furniture store as he carried out his driving manoeuvre, Garda Lynn said: “I believe the manner of his driving posed a serious and immediate risk to the public and in doing so is defined as dangerous driving.”
In defence, solicitor Tom McDonnell argued the point that the incident took place closer to the roundabout than what had previously been suggested.
“No,” he replied when asked by Judge Hughes if he, himself, thought the episode constituted dangerous driving.
“He (Mr Danila) thought there were two lanes coming into the roundabout because the road was wide.”
Judge Hughes offered a different opinion however, claiming what concerned him more was the fact Mr Danila “undertook” three vehicles along a main road.
The court also heard from a motorist and independent witness whose dashcam device captured the entire incident.
He described how he saw Mr Danila undertake him and other road users on his inside, a move which led him to phone gardai.
“I was a bit annoyed that if I moved into the left he would have wiped me out,” he said.
“I just thought he was reckless in his driving manner.”
Mr McDonnell, in his direct questioning of Garda Lynn, said his Romanian client had only been in the country for two years and was not very much unaccustomed to the local road network.
“I would put it to you he was only driving two months, was living in Dublin and was not familiar with roads in Longford,” he said.
The Longford solicitor added his client also boasted an unblemished record when it came to road traffic offences.
A fish factory worker by trade, Mr McDonnell said Mr Danila was a single man who resided in Dublin’s Malahide area.
Mr Danila also took to the stand and denied questions put to him by Inspector Padraig Jones that he was totally unaware a roundabout lay ahead as he undertook vehicles in front of him.
“When you commenced the manouvre you wouldn’t have even seen the roundabout,” he said.
“No, my GPS told me,” Mr Danila replied.
Indicating that he intended finding Mr Danila guilty of the offence, Judge Hughes said there was always the option for the accused to appeal.
“The great thing about the District Court is you can ventilate yourself again in the Circuit Court,” he told Mr McDonnell.
“I realise the consequences (of a driving ban) but I won’t reduce the charge of dangerous driving.”
He also added Mr Danila was fighting a losing battle and could have spared himself the more stiffer penalty he was now issuing had he accepted his guilt from the outset.
“This case took 40 minutes and should have been dealt with by a plea,” he said.
Judge Hughes subsequently disqualified Mr Danila for three years and fined him €500.
Mr Danila, through his solicitor, hinted he would contest the conviction with Mr McDonnell asking Judge Hughes to fix recognisances in the event of an appeal.