A man arrested on the Athlone bypass with a bottle of whiskey beside him, and who later registered a breath sample three times the legal limit, was disqualified from driving for four years in the District Court this week (June 20 ).
The court was told how Willie McDonagh (43 ), a father of six from Ballacagher, Ballintubber, Castlerea, Co Roscommon was apprehended at 2.30pm on April 24 after gardaí received a number of calls from members of the public reporting a vehicle being driven dangerously on the Roscommon-Athlone road.
“The Gardaí followed him onto the motorway, where he was weaving across the lanes. Judge, when he was pulled over the driver was very intoxicated,” said Inspector Nicholas Farrell, who gave McDonagh’s intoxiliser reading as 104/100.
“There was a bottle of whiskey between the front seats,” he added.
Barrister Karl Monahan said his client wished to apologise for his actions, but that the bottle of whiskey was not his but his passenger’s.
Mr Monahan said how his client wasn’t aware his passenger had a medical condition and was weaving because “he was attempting to hold him up when he began to have a blackout”.
“Mr McDonagh believes it was a blessing they were stopped on account of Mr Mongan’s [the passenger]condition,” said Mr Monahan.
“Hmm. Was his blood alcohol level increasing or decreasing? Was he drinking while he was driving?” asked Judge Seamus Hughes.
McDonagh denied that he was, saying he didn’t drink whiskey, but admitted drinking vodka all the previous day up until 4am.
“You didn’t drink the whiskey?” asked the judge.
“No,” said McDonagh.
“I don’t believe you,” said the judge, adding a further year’s disqualification onto the already mandatory three years, and fining McDonagh €500.