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Farmer caught driving tractor with empty bottle of vodka handed three year ban

Police farm tractor

A Co. Armagh farmer who was found driving a tractor with an empty bottle of vodka, whilst twice the limit, was handed a three year disqualification.

The 54-year-old’s solicitor informed court that the defendant had one previous drink driving offence from 2017.

George McCartney, of Kilrea Hill in Jerretspass, had a plea of guilty entered on his behalf to driving with excess alcohol at Armagh Magistrates’, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday.

Prosecution outlined that on October 19, at 10.15pm, received a report of a male suspected of being under the influence driving a tractor in the vicinity of Tannyoky Road, Poyntzpass.

Officers arrived to find this defendant in the cab of the tractor with an empty bottle of vodka.

A preliminary breath test conducted at the roadside resulted in a fail; McCartney was arrested and conveyed to Banbridge Custody Suite.

Whilst there, an evidential breath sample was obtained giving a fail reading. A subsequent sample of blood was taken which upon forensic analysis gave a reading of 217mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood – over twice the limit.

During interview, the defendant made full admissions to the offence.

Defence solicitor Ruari Gillen informed the court that McCartney had a previous drink driving conviction from 2017, which would trigger the minimum three year disqualification.

The solicitor stated: “It is unusual that a sample of blood was taken, this was accepted at an early opportunity but unfortunately it was the blood analysis which took a bit of time.

“He was out working, he stopped off to buy a bottle of vodka and he had essentially consumed it by the time he was stopped.”

Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer said: “I have taken into account what has been said, however, this man was almost three times the legal limit and has a previous excess alcohol within the last three years.”

McCartney was disqualified from driving for three years and was ordered to pay a fine of £400, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 26 weeks.

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