A coach driver, who had been unaware his insurance was invalid because of an automatic penalty point disqualification, was banned from driving for 12 months and given a four month suspended sentence this week.
A somewhat bewildered and agitated Mario Barisha appeared before Judge Mary Fahy at Galway District Court last Monday charged with driving while not sufficiently covered by insurance, failing to produce valid insurance, driving without a valid driving licence and failing to produce one at Gurran, Oranmore, on June 11, 2008.
Barisha, with an address at 146 Cherry Orchard Avenue, Ballyfermot, Dublin, and who had worked as a bus driver for 11 years, claimed that he had not known that his insurance was invalid due to a disqaulification which had been imposed automatically after he had accumulated penalty points.
Garda Damien Coleman gave evidence that on June 11, 2008, at 5.48pm the defendant was seen driving a red coach, belonging to a private hire company, on the hard shoulder for about a mile and was “undertaking” other traffic. Garda Coleman said that when stopped the defendant did produce the insurance the next day but this was not valid because a disqualification order was in existence.
The court then heard how the defendant had previous convictions for road traffic offences including driving without reasonable consideration on May 15, 2008, for which he received a three month disqualification which was postponed to August 2008.
Defence solicitor Adrian MacLynn said that his client had not received notification of any penalty points being received. He then asked Judge Fahy to give him a chance.
However, Judge Fahy said that she was concerned that Barisha did not seem to accept the Garda evidence and that he seemed to think it’s alright to drive. She added that this would have had serious consequences for the coach hire company as they would not have been covered if the coach had been involved in an accident.
Judge Fahy then imposed a four month sentence suspended for 12 months and Barisha was placed on his own bond of €300 to be of good behaviour. He was also disqualified for 12 months and fined €400 with three months to pay.