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Drink driver with 30-year clear record told ‘my hands are tied’ as district judge imposes ban

Officers stopped defendant after his vehicle passed over central white markings on road

Drink-driving Armagh courthouse

A man with a 30-year clean record has been handed a 12-month disqualification for drink driving.

The district judge told the 48-year-old: “My hands are tied.”

Martin McGrath, of Loughbrickland Road, Gilford pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol at Armagh Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Court heard that on February 22, at 12.45am, police observed the defendant driving on the Tandragee Road, Gilford.

Officers stopped McGrath after his vehicle passed over the central white markings on the road.

It was noted that the defendant had trouble winding down his window and police noted a strong smell of alcohol.

A preliminary breath test at the roadside resulted in a fail and a further evidential sample taken at Lurgan custody suite gave a reading of 87mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

Defence counsel stated: “He has significant health problems and has held a licence for 30 years.

“He is the carer for his elderly mother and also has to take his son, who has a keen interest in horseriding, all over Ireland.”

He added: “Mr McGrath cannot give me any indication as to why he drove; he did have an operation to remove a lump in his throat the following Tuesday which he was nervous about.”

District Judge Brian Archer stated: “My hands are tied.”

McGrath was disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay a fine of £250, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 16 weeks.

He was certified for the drink driving course which would see his ban reduced to one of nine months if completed.

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