Woman drinking beer crashed car with her one-year-old in the back

By Brendan Grehan

A CARE assistant from a Dublin hospital who crashed her car in Clondalkin while drinking a can of beer with her one-year-old child seated in the back of the car has been jailed for 28 days by Blanchardstown District Court.

Sentencing the woman, Judge David McHugh told the court that the woman “thoroughly deserves the sentence”.

Blanch Courthouse 4

He told the court Garda: “Take her down.”

The woman (34), who has an address in the north inner city and who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to being drunk in charge of a vehicle and with being drunk in charge of a child contrary to Section 9 of the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1908, at Nangor Road, Clondalkin on June 24, 2018.

Sergeant Maria Callaghan said that at 3.30pm on June 24 last, gardai responded to a report that a car had crashed in the bus lane on the Nangor Road. Sgt. Callaghan said gardai found the female slumped over the steering wheel with an open can of beer in her hand. She said the woman was slurring her words.

There was a one-year-old child sitting in the back of the car. Sgt Callaghan said the child was highly distressed and was crying and sweating.

The woman was taken to Clondalkin Garda Station where she supplied a blood sample to a doctor. The sample read 219mg alcohol over 100ml blood.

Sgt Callaghan said the woman had no previous convictions.

The woman’s solicitor, Valerie Buckley, said she had a number of references. She said Tusla had carried out an investigation and deemed that no further action was necessary.

Ms Buckley said that her client is a single mother and works as a care assistant in a Dublin hospital. She said that on the date in question, her client had worked six 12-hour night shifts in a row and was going to a birthday party.

Ms Buckley said her client had some beer the night before and had drunk some beer before driving.

She said that if the woman is convicted of the charge of being drunk in charge of a child, she will lose her job.

Judge McHugh asked Ms Buckley what was her response to her client having consumed 219 microgrammes of alcohol over 100 millilitres of blood and that she crashed the car and caused her child to be extremely upset.

Ms Buckley said the incident was a one-off and wouldn’t happen again.

She said her client had not taken a drink since the incident and was attending counselling. Ms Buckley said her client had worked in the health sector since leaving school at 17.

She said the woman would lose her job if she was convicted for the charge of being drunk in charge of a child.

Judge McHugh said it was an “appalling breach of trust” for the accused’s child and members of the public who were put in danger.

The woman had been “incapable of speaking or performing any other normal function when gardai came upon her in a crashed car.”

Ms Buckley said her client was “beyond devastated that this happened”.

Judge McHugh fined the accused €200 and banned her from driving for three years for being drunk in charge of a vehicle.

The judge considered the other charge to be more serious and that the breach of trust was “so great that I’m sending this lady to prison”.

Judge McHugh said: “Were it not for the intervention of fate, or whatever, she may well have been in a different forum. She thoroughly deserves the sentence being handed down today and I have no hesitation in imposing same. Take her down.”

He sentenced her to 28 days imprisonment.

He noted that the maximum penalty under the Summary Jurisdiction Act of 1908 was “40 shillings with or without hard labour for a period of a month”. He said the law was “seriously outdated”.

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