Less than half of drink driving cases result in convictions in Clare

Only 43 per cent of drink driving cases result in convictions in Clare

MORE than half of defendants in drink driving cases escape conviction in Clare it was revealed this week. Furthermore the message on drink driving is still not getting through according to local gardaí following confirmation this week that 146 people had been arrested on suspicion of drink driving in the county to date this year, the vast majority of them male. This figure was confirmed to The Clare People in the wake of the publication of figures that suggested over half of the people charged with drink driving escape conviction in this county. Over the past two and a half years there have been 496 drink driving cases before the Clare courts with 218 resulting in convictions and driving bans. In England and Wales the success rate for drink driving cases is 97 per cent. In Ennis the figures since January 2013 reveal that of 393 cases brought before the courts, only 182 resulted in convictions. In Killaloe a total of 56 cases were brought in the same time period, with only 21 resulting in convictions. Kilrush saw 47 court cases and only 15 convictions. A prominent Ennis solicitor told The Clare People this week that a host of technicalities must be satisfied to secure a conviction, as many as sixty, and this creates loopholes that enable some people before the courts to escape convictions.
“The law is quite strict in how these cases must be prosecuted and many solicitors are combing the evidence chains to find instances that render a conviction unsafe,’ he said.
“One of the most common instances for a case being dismissed is the non attendance of a garda involved in the prosecution at the court hearing. It is hard to blame the gardaí because there are a number of valid reasons why they mightn’t be able to attend,” he added.
According to District Officer for the Clare Division, Superintendent Brendan McDonagh, manpower is an issue when it comes to prosecuting drink driving cases;
“Drink driving cases are now the most contested and that means every single garda who was involved in the case must appear in court. Those cases require a lot of proofs and every garda who was involved in any stage of the evidence gathering must then appear in court,” Supt Mc-Donagh told us.

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