A Straffan man has been found guilty of being drunk in charge of his car.
Finbar O’Hagen whose address is listed as Boreen, Straffan, had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
He was found by Garda Garvan Kelleher in the early hours of December 4, 2010 at Laurences Avenue, Maynooth.
He was slumped over the wheel of his Toyota Rav 4 with the keys in the ignition and the engine running.
In law, a person who has drank too much to drive their car may not sit in the driver’s seat of their car with the key in the ignition. The engine doesn’t have to be on.
Mr. O’Hagen’s legal representatives felt he had a defence to the charge based around the fact that they could show it was not his intent to drive the car.
On the day in question, they explained, Mr. O’Hagen, a lorry driver by profession, had parked his car outside the house of friends of his. The friends and he had made their way into Dublin at about 2pm where they went drinking for the afternoon. They arrived back in Maynooth that evening at about 6.30pm by bus.
At approximately 12.30, Mr. O’Hagen says he left his friends’ house because they were going to bed. Outside the house, he phoned for a taxi.
It was December 2010, which readers may recall was a particularly cold December. Recalling this, he told the court that he got into this car, turned on the engine and the heater to keep himself warm.
The next thing he knew he was being roused from his sleep by a garda.
Under questioning from the prosecuting garda, the defendant said he didn’t wait for the taxi inside the house “out of respect for the lads who were going to bed”.
Morgan Leddice, the owner of Manor Cabs, gave evidence that the defendant was a regular customer.
He produced what he called “the day sheet” for that day showing a record of a call from the defendant looking for a taxi.
Confirming the defendant’s story that it was very cold, he explained that the drivers had difficulty in getting to the call immediately and that by the time they got there, there was nobody to pick up.
Judge Desmond Zaidan found against the defendant, noting that the level of alcohol detected in his blood “was very bad”.
The defendant has no previous convictions.
His barrister noted that his client “drives for a living and that job is now gone. He won’t be able to pay the mortgage”.
Judge Zaidan said it gave him “no satisfaction to do this” but his disqualified Mr. O’Hagen for three years.
He said he appreciated the way the defence dealt with the case and fined him €450.