A 55 year old man who unsuccessfully contested a drink driving prosecution had just laid-off 150 workers on his construction sites due to the Covid lockdown on the day he was arrested, Dundalk district court heard last week.
Michael Murphy with an address at Park View, Cloghoge, Newry was convicted of failing or refusing to comply with a requirement to provide a breath specimen at Dundalk Grda Station on October 16th last.
A woman told the court last Wednesday she had seen a car pulled in on the Racecourse Road, with a man standing beside it, who was struggling to get in on the driver's side and fell into the car.
When she returned she could see the driver was trying to reverse and the car was moving forward and hitting the kerb.
The woman suspected it was a drunk driver and called the gardai shortly before 11pm and she waited with her hazard lights on for the guards to arrive.
The investigating Garda gave evidence of seeing a Mercedes C250 parked across two lanes on the road and on seeing the garda vehicle, the driver drove forward before coming to an abrupt stop.
He was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and was brought to Dundalk Garda Station where he refused to provide a breath specimen.
The court also heard the defendant was given the opportunity to provide a blood or urine specimen and while he said he was unable to provide a urine sample, he refused to allow a doctor to draw a blood specimen.
A dangerous driving charge was struck out after the Defence barrister successfully argued there was no evidence of speed or the public being put at risk.
A further charge of failing to provide a blood specimen was also dismissed as the date on the charge sheet was October 16th, when the court heard that the requirement was made after 1am on the 17th.
However, Judge Eirinn McKiernan convicted Mr. Murphy of failing to provide the breath specimen.
The Defence barrister said his client's building sites were closed down in order to comply with the Covid restrictions and he had just laid off 150 workers.
He had significant financial commitments and 'unfortunately it got the better of him'.
The judge imposed a €300 fine and four year driving ban and fixed recognizance in the event of an appeal.
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