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Judge Patrick Durcan

Driver six times over drink driving limit drove wrong way on M18

A COUNTY Limerick woman has been put off the road for three years, having driven the incorrect way along the fast lane of the M18, while almost six times over the legal drink driving limit.

Alexandra Kaninka of Bothar Buí, Ghleann Mhoir, Newcastle West, appeared before Ennis District Court, where she pleaded guilty to charges of drink driving and dangerous driving at Carrigoran and at Ballynacragga, Newmarket-on-Fergus, on March 6 last.

Inspector Tom Kennedy, prosecuting, said the motorway has to be closed down to traffic after a number of calls were made to the 999 line of a car travelling the incorrect way along the fast lane of the M18.

The court heard that the incident took place at 7.30pm. It was dark and cars had to take evasive action to avoid a collision with the defendant’s car.

Garda Liam Reilly told the court that he met the defendant when he came upon her car parked to one side of the central divide of the motorway.

He said it had its main headlights still on and the defendant was sitting behind the wheel.
He explained that he could visibly see she had been drinking and arrested her on suspicion of drink driving.

When Ms Kaninka gave a blood sample at the garda station following her arrest, the sample came back with a reading of 294mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, which is almost six times the legal limit. The current legal limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

He added that the only reason the car had come to a stop where it did was because the clutch had gone in the vehicle.

“She was driving in first or second gear. Thankfully, there was no collision and no one was injured,” he said.

Garda Reilly said the defendant had said she had come to be in the area as she had to collect her husband from the airport.  He said she came along the old Newmarket-on-Fergus Road and got confused at the roundabout in Carrigoran, which led to her going onto the incorrect carriageway of the M18.

Garda Reilly confirmed to defence solicitor John Casey that the defendant was “very distressed and very upset” on the night and co-operated fully with the gardaí.

Mr Casey said his client rarely goes out and that she had been out with a friend that night and did not think she had that much to drink.

She had “no understanding how she ended up where she ended up. She has not driven since and has never caused trouble before,” he said.

The court heard the defendant has no previous convictions.

Judge Patrick Durcan, presiding, said the defendant’s actions “put people into huge danger”, adding that “people come onto a motorway and assume everything will be all right”.

He imposed a €750 fine and applied a two-year driving disqualification, in respect of the dangerous driving charges.

He ordered she pay a fine of €100 for the drink driving charge and disqualified her from driving for three years in respect of that charge.

Carol Byrne

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