A man who appeared before Longford District Court last week charged under the Road Traffic Act was disqualified from driving for three years and fined €250 following a lengthy hearing into the matter.
Adil Auhammad (31) 26 Ankers Court, The Bower, Athlone, Co Westmeath appeared before Judge Seamus Hughes charged with attempting to drive a vehicle while over the legal limit of alcohol at Main Street, Longford on December 30, 2017.
Outlining the evidence to the court, Garda Kevin Corcoran said that on the date in question he observed a car parked in a disabled bay outside the Supermacs restaurant in Longford town.
He said he watched the vehicle for some time and parked close by in an effort to monitor the situation.
“There was no disabled parking permit on the car so I parked adjacent to the vehicle and observed a male sitting in the driver’s seat with the engine running,” Garda Corcoran added, before pointing out that it was his intention to go over and speak to the driver.
“The lights were on so I got out of my car and went over to speak to the driver who immediately got out of the vehicle leaving the lights on and the engine running.”
Garda Corcoran then told the court that when approached the defendant he appeared unsteady on his feet and there was a strong smell of alcohol coming from him.
He also indicated that the engine of the car was still running at this point.
“When I approached the male and spoke to him I detected a smell of intoxicating liquor coming from his breath; his speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet,” the Garda continued.
Judge Hughes was then told that Mr Auhammad was arrested on suspicion of being drunk in charge and take to Longford Garda Station.
“He was subsequently arrested and taken to Longford Garda Station,” Garda Corcoran said.
The court then heard that the defendant underwent an intoxilyzer test at the station and an alcohol reading was subsequently obtained.
The court was also told that the defendant had been in a local nightclub prior to being discovered in his car with the engine running and the lights on.
“Mr Auhammad told me that he had been in a nightclub and had just come out of it when he got into the car,” Garda Connolly said.
Meanwhile, the defendant’s solicitor told the court that his client had no intention of driving his car that night and had simply gone into it to stay warm.
He insisted that his client had no jacket with him on the occasion and because of the freezing temperatures, the defendant had simply gone into his car to stay warm.
“He had been in the fast food restaurant nearby and there were issues over some comments that were made,” the solicitor continued.
“He says that he was sitting in the car because it was a freezing cold night and he had no jacket with him.”
In his direct evidence to the court Mr Auhammad started off by telling Judge Hughes that he had left his home in Athlone earlier that night and driven to Longford town where he met his friend.
He indicated that it was approximately 11pm when he arrived in the centre of town and the pair subsequently went to a late bar.
The defendant was then asked why he had parked in a disabled bay in the first instance.
“Because it was snowing I didn’t see that I had parked in a disabled bay,” he added, before pointing out that “there was snow everywhere” and a Yellow weather warning had been issued that particular day.
“I remember coming out of the night club and going into Supermacs; some comments were made to me there so I left and my friend was with me.
“My friend said that he would hail a taxi and told me go and sit in the car.
“I knew I was over the limit to drive.”
Meanwhile, Judge Hughes asked the defendant what he was drinking that night and what he ate in the fast food outlet afterwards.
“Vodka and chips,” Mr Auhammad replied, before adding, “I was not going to drive that night; I was staying with my friend in his place and we were going to get a taxi back there.”
Inspector Blathín Moran then asked the defendant under cross examination if he could prove that there had been adverse weather conditions that night.
She also pointed out to the court that it was her understanding that it was not snowing on the night in question.
The defendant told her that he had taken a photo that night of the snow but unfortunately he did not bring the image to court with him.
“I have the photo on my phone,” he added.
The defendant’s solicitor then said, in mitigation, that his client worked in security in Dublin and was also the father of one child.
Meanwhile, Judge Hughes then pointed out that if the weather had been as bad that night as the defendant claimed it had been, there would have been no taxis running in the first place!
He added, “It doesn’t make sense; your evidence would fly in the face of common sense; this fellow gets out of the car straight away as a garda approaches him and he clearly had to move his car at some point, so I can convict because I believe that you have every intention of driving your vehicle that night.”
Following his deliberations on the matter the Judge disqualified the defendant from driving for three years and fined him €250 before bringing matters to a conclusion.