Checkpoint set up unlawfully.
15 September, 2023.
A PROSECUTION AGAINST a man accused of drug driving was withdrawn at Limerick District Court after it was accepted that a checkpoint had been set up unlawfully.
The case demonstrated that if an arrest of a motorist occurs based on errors on official documentation, the legality of that arrest may be at issue.
Mr F. was driving along Ballycummin Road, Limerick on 28 April 2021 when he was stopped by Garda O’ Shea. Garda O’ Shea was conducting a Mandatory Intoxilyser Checkpoint.
NOTE: Mandatory Intoxilyser Checkpoints allow members of the Gardai to set up checkpoints at a specific location at a specific time and on a specific date. These checkpoints give the Gardai far-reaching powers to demand specimens of a person’s oral fluid (saliva) or breath. To be lawful such checkpoints must be authorised in writing by a Garda Inspector.
THE CASE AGAINST MR. F.
Garda O’ Shea had set up the Mandatory Checkpoint under a written authorisation provided by an Inspector. The authorisation permitted the setting up the checkpoint between 10pm and 12am on 28 April, 2021 at a place known as “Church Road, Raheen, Limerick”.
The case demonstrated that if
an arrest of a motorist occurs
based on errors on official
documentation, the legality of
that arrest may be at issue.
When he was stopped, Garda O’ Shea told Mr F. that he was required to provide a specimen of his oral fluid (saliva).
Mr F. was warned that if he did not provide a specimen of oral fluid, he would be committing an offence. If he was convicted of this offence, he was told, he could be fined €5,000 or face imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both.
Mr F. was given an oral fluid collection tip and told to place it inside his mouth. He was told by Garda O’ Shea how to use it to collect saliva from his mouth. He did so and this was tested by a Drager drug testing device.
It showed a positive reading for cannabis.
Mr F. was arrested by Garda O’ Shea on suspicion of drug driving and taken to Henry Street Garda Station. A doctor was contacted, and a specimen of blood was provided by Mr F. It later showed a concentration of cannabis in his blood above the legal limit.
If Mr F. was convicted, he would face a mandatory disqualification from driving of 12 months.
BEFORE THE TRIAL BEGAN Mr Horan produced copies of the Ordinance Survey maps for the area where Mr F. had been stopped in Limerick City.
While the defence accepted that the place where Mr F. was stopped had once been known as Church Road, and was still referred to by some people as Church Road, this name had officially changed some years earlier.
It had been renamed as Ballycummin Road, Limerick. This was now its official name, as recorded on the Ordinance Survey maps, the state mapping body.
MR. HORAN STATED THAT his client would be raising the defence of having no legal case to answer on the basis that the mandatory checkpoint had been set up unlawfully.
The Authorisation under which it had been established had mandated the setting up of a checkpoint at Church Road, Limerick.
Mr F had not been stopped on Church Road. He had been stopped on Ballycummin Road, Limerick. While these two places were close to one another they were two different places.
As the checkpoint had not been established in accordance with law, the arrest was therefore unlawful, and the subsequent specimen of blood was also unlawfully obtained.
According to the Ordinance Survey Ireland maps, the name of the road that Mr F. had been driving on and later stopped, was “Ballycummin Road, Limerick”.
As the Ordinance Survey maps were the official mapping body of the State the court would be bound to accept the names it assigned to places as the legally correct name of those places.
The State agreed that Mr Horan’s submission had been correct. They asked the court to withdraw the prosecution against Mr F.
The prosecution case was withdrawn and struck out.