A drink driver who was more than five times the limit at rush hour on one of Northern Ireland busiest roads has been banned for three years.
Samuel Hanna (43), of Knockahollet Road near Cloughmills, was pulled over by police at the nearby Frosses Road between Ballymena and Coleraine at 4.50pm on Tuesday January 8 this year.
Coleraine Magistrates Court was told police saw a vehicle being driven erratically and “weaving” on the road.
When stopped, Hanna failed a preliminary breath test at the road side which was 182 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.
When arrested and taken to a police station the defendant refused to provide an evidential sample. At court he pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to provide a specimen of breath.
Defence solicitor Emma McCann said the defendant was not intentionally trying to obstruct police but after failing the preliminary breath test at the scene he knew he was over the limit.
She said the loss of his licence would impact on the defendant who receives income support and carer allowance.
The court heard Hanna had a previous drink drive related offence in 2012.
Deputy District Judge Peter Magill banned the defendant from driving for three years along with a £100 fine.
Hanna’s preliminary breath reading is believed to be one of the biggest to come before a court in Northern Ireland in recent years.
In 2015, it was reported, a man with a Draperstown address, had a preliminary breath test reading of of 214 micrograms and a judge said it was the highest he had heard of in more than 20 years.
A PSNI document on preliminary breath tests says: ‘PBTs (preliminary breath tests) can only be regarded as indicative of the level of alcohol present in a sample of breath and are not used to determine whether a driver was above or below the legal limit to drive.
‘It remains the case that it is only at a police station or hospital that a specimen(s) can be obtained to determine the proportion of alcohol in a person’s measured specimen of breath, blood or urine using pre-calibrated evidential devices. This ensures the sample has not been affected by any interfering substances.’