20 May 2022

Tipperary driver who had engine on to keep warm cleared of drink driving charge

Tipperary driver who had engine on to keep warm cleared of drink driving charge

Tipperary driver who had engine on to keep warm cleared of drink driving charge

A man who was found asleep in his car in Nenagh had a charge against him of drink driving or intending to drive dismissed by Nenagh District Court.

Joe Hackett of 6 The Path, Garryowen, Limerick, pleaded not guilty to drink driving or attempting to drive a vehicle at Pearse Street, Nenagh, on February 17, 2018.

Garda Willie Hayes told the court that a report had come into the Garda station about a car parked incorrectly.

He went to the vehicle and found Mr Hackett asleep in the driver’s seat. The engine was running and Mr Hackett was wearing his seat belt.

The car was parked with the back of it out on the road.

Mr Hackett woke up when he tapped the window and told him he had the engine on to try and keep warm.

Garda Hayes said he got a smell of alcohol and Mr Hackett was unsteady on his feet when he asked him to step out; his speech was slurred.

At 8.23am, he judged he was under the influence of an intoxicant. Mr Hackett was arrested at 8.25am and brought him to the station where a subsequent reading showed 42mgs of alcohol per 100mls of breath.

Mr Hackett told his solictor, Conor Delaney, that he had come to Nenagh for a family event and parked his car in the manner in which it had been found the following day.

“I am not the best at parking. I never was. I arrived around midday and went straight to the pub and went drinking for the day,” he said.

He had intended staying with his cousin in the town but they had got separated and was not at home.

He had been faced with two choices: to drive or to go to sleep and go to his cousin’s the next morning.

“I had the engine running because it was freezing cold,” he said. “I was trying to do the right thing.”

Under cross-examination by Insp Amanda Reynolds, Mr Hackett said that he might have been wearing his seat belt because he might have thought about driving.

“I was drunk but I stayed there and did not move,” he said.

It could be that he put his belt on automatically.

He told Judge Elizabeth McaGrath that it had been his intention to walk back to his cousin’s house the next morning.

Judge MacGrath, in her judgment, said that there was no doubt Mr Hackett had been in charge of the vehicle and that he exceeded the alcohol limit. However, the issue was intent to drive and he had said he was in the driver’s seat, with the engine on and wearing his seat belt to keep himself warm.

“He said quite honestly that he was out all day drinking and was drunk, but his evidence was that he was to go to his cousin’s by foot. He was not challenged on that evidence.

Judge MacGrath dismissed the charge.

Mr Hackett pleaded to being in possession of cocaine and cannabis at Banba Square on the same date. The drugs were found while he was being processed at the Garda station.

Judge MacGrath fined him €350 for possession of cocaine and €150 for having cannabis.

She fixed recognizance in his own bond of €250.

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