A Castledermot man who was before Athy District court on Tuesday for driving while under the influence of an over-the-counter drug was acquitted.
Paul Daly, with an address listed as 4 Ardan Diarmada, Castledermot came to the attention of gardai on February 6, 2017 while driving erratically at Barrow Quay in Athy. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The court heard that Mr Daly's car was observed swaying on the road at 8.10pm. He was passing over the line and his driving was described as being erratic while trying to overtake a lorry at speed. He was stopped by gardai, who observed his hands were shaking and his pupils were dilated.
The defendant told gardai he was on his way to Cuan Mhuire treatment centre for his gambling addiction at the time. He also explained that he had been at the dentist at 10am that day to get a filling. He had taken some Nurofen and he received an anesthetic at the dentist's. He was also on medication for anti-depressants.
He was arrested at 8.25pm and taken to Athy garda station where he provided a urine sample for a drugs test at 9.22pm. The test found opiates in his system. The court heard that opiates covers a wide range of prescription and over the-counter-drugs, including Nurofen and Solpadeine.
"Is it possible that this man's explanation was fine?" asked Judge Desmond Zaidan. The court heard that it was possible the intoxicants in his system could have been from Nurofen and the antidepressants, rather than illegal drugs.
The defendant's solicitor Frank Taffe said Nurofen is a derivative of opium, adding that the cough bottle could give you same effect.
Inspector Mel Smith argued that, regardless of what caused the impairment, the defendant was still too impaired to drive on the day.
"There is clear evidence that his driving was impaired," he said. "His driving attracted attention to such an extent that he did not have control of the car."
Mr Daly told the court that he is a former driver instructor and denied that his driving was impaired at the time, adding that he tried to over take a lorry in front but soon realised it wasn't safe to do so.
"I have a gambling problem and I was on my way to Cuan Mhuire," he said. "I went to the chemist to get a packet of Nurofen Plus and Solpadeine. I was told to take two every four hours. I checked at the pharmacy."
Judge Zaidan said that the test for drugs are now so sophisticated that it can trace anything in your system.
"Also he was at the dentist that morning - on that basis I have to acquit him," he said.
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