Europe: Irish Judge Balks at Unquantified Drugged Driving Test

An Irish judge last Friday threw out drugged driving charges against a young driver, saying that a positive result for marijuana in his urine sample was not specific enough to allow him to conclude that the driver was indeed impaired. Judge Kevin Kilrane of the Ballyshannon District Court in Donegal also criticized the Road Safety Medical Bureau for failing to test for the level of drug intoxication in its drug tests.

Peter Gillen was pulled over shortly after 4:00am for driving erratically, and Garda Officer Sean Flynn described him as "very shocked, unsteady, and very agitated" upon being stopped. Gillen tested negative on a breath test for alcohol, but Flynn arrested him on suspicion of drugged driving, and a urine sample Gillen provided soon after came up positive for marijuana.

That wasn't enough for Judge Kilrane to find Gillen guilty of drugged driving, which carries a harsh penalty of an automatic four-year loss of one's drivers' license. The mere presence of marijuana in Gillen's system did not show he was impaired, the judge said.

"The defendant could have been stoned out of his mind or he might have had a trace element only," Kilrane said. "At best, all you have is suspicion, and suspicion is not enough." The evidence was "too thin" to convict he said, as he dismissed the charge.

Kilrane scolded the Road Safety Medical Bureau for only testing for the presence of marijuana and not quantifying the amount present. "It is not the fault of the gardaí," he said. "It is the fault of the bureau that does not give a concentration of drugs."

US states that have "zero tolerance" drugged driving laws operate on the same standard criticized by the Irish jurist. In such jurisdictions, the mere presence of marijuana or its metabolites is sufficient to garner a conviction, without the need to show actual impairment.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

good judge...

it's nice to know there are SOME intelligent and informed judges!!

[email protected]

This is one story that I can

This is one story that I can actually enjoy, throw that dumb mess out- DRUGGED DRIVING! yeah right, how many people die to drugged driving as opposed to drunk driving...yet your license is only suspended for a coule of months to a year if that happens, but 4 years for marijuana......gotta love this judge!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School