Hundreds of drink driving cases may be thrown out of court after a ruling that saw a breath alcohol test being dismissed because it was not given in both English and Irish.
The decision was made by the High Court Judge Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, who said there was "no ambiguity" in a law which states that gardaí must provide printouts from their breathalyzer machine in both languages.
The ruling was made in the drink driving case brought against Mihai Avadenei, whose solicitor argued to the District Court that the printed statement produced following his client's Evidenzer test was invalid as it was in English only, a clear violation of the Statutory Instrument 541 of 2011.
Judge Noonan said,
In my view, what arises in this case, being a failure to reproduce an entire half of the prescribed form, could not be regarded as 'mere deviation' from the form prescribed. It is not evidence at all and cannot be admitted.
Susan Gray, of road safety group PARC, told The Irish Independent that the news is "very distressing" for many.
Members of PARC were attending a number of court hearings where we observed solicitors asking judges to dismiss drink-drive charges for this very reason. We wrote to the Minster [Paschal Donohoe] and asked him if there was a loophole there to close it as soon as possible. It is extremely worrying for us and it must be troubling for the gardaí also who are trying to bring these people to justice.
Susan Gray, PARC
Hundreds of other drink driving cases may now be reviewed in light of this new legal precedent.
UPDATE: Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has signed emergency legislation this afternoon to close the loophole that might have resulted in drink driving prosecutions being dismissed.