A woman who was observed driving with a dog on her lap was convicted of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant at last week’s sitting of Glenties District Court.
Garda Dylan Conroy told the court that he observed Anne Glackin of Ballykilduff, Portnoo driving in an erratic manner and swerving from one side of the road to the other at Narin, Portnoo on June 19 last.
In direct evidence Garda Dylan Conry said “I observed the vehicle swerving from one side of the road to the other and clipping the hedges on a few occasions.
“I also noticed a dog jumping all over the vehicle and then jumping into the front of the vehicle where it sat on the driver’s lap with its head out the window.
“I activated the sirens and blue lights and brought he car to a stop.
“The drivers was not wearing a seat belt, was smoking and had the dog sitting on her lap. While speaking to her I noticed that her eyes were glazed, her speech was slurred: there was a strong smell of alcohol of her breath and she was slumped back in the seat.
“I formed the opinion that the defendant was unfit to drive and informed her that I was arresting her on suspicion of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant.
The Garda further told the court that he conveyed the defendant back to Glenties Garda Station and Introduced her to Garda Catherine Henry who took up as member in charge.
The court was told that during the required 20 minutes of observation, Garda Conry noticed that the defendant was chewing gum and that he informed the member in charge and stopped the observation.
Once he was satisfied that the defendant had nothing in her mouth he then recommenced the period of observation and then requested her to give breath samples by using the intoxilliser.
Garda Conry said that the defendant fully co-operated by providing the breath samples.
Garda Catherine Henry who had assumed the role of member in charge on the evening concurred with Garda Conroy’s evidence.
The solicitor for the defence Donnacha O Baoighill in his submission questioned the suitability of the member in charge as she was the Garda who was with the arresting Garda at the tome.
He also added that the Garda had driven the defendant home and had given her the keys of her vehicle back on the way.
“If the Garda felt that the defendant was unfit to drive he would not have given her the keys back.”
Mr. O’Baoighill also added that there was no law allowing the Garda to stop the 20 minutes observation period.
Judge Paul Kelly replied saying, “I admire your courage in putting forward these submissions bit I do not hold with them.
The Garda has given clear evidence and legally would not have been entitled to hold on to the keys.
“In relation to the suitability of Garda Henry assuming the role of member in charge, this duty was discharged carefully.
“Finally it would make a nonsense of the observation period if a Garda had noticed something in a defendant’s mouth and was not able to turn the clock back to nought.”
Judge Kelly convicted the defendant fining her €300 and disqualifying her from driving for three years.