The Evidenzer Machine
Within the last 2 years, the Gardai, when taking breath samples in a Garda Station to check for the presence of alcohol have started to use a machine known as the Evidenzer. Before that the breath testing machine was known as the Intoxilyser. In relation to the use of the Intoxilyser, the Courts have accepted that the Gardai are entitled to detain and observe an arrested person for a 20 minute period prior to having the arrested person blow into it.
It was accepted in relation to the use of the Intoxilyser that this 20 minute observation period (to make sure that the arrested person did not eat or drink during this time period) was necessary and best practice for use of that machine. The Gardai however continued to use this 20 minute observation period in their usage of the new Evidenzer and this detention period has now been challenged in the High Court in a case brought by a man called Ronan Stack. Mr Stack is effectively claiming that his detention in the Garda station for a 20 minute observation period prior to being asked to blow into the Evidenzer was unlawful. If that is accepted by the Court, then any evidence obtained afterwards, for example, the results of the Breath Test, has not been validly obtained and therefore cannot be used against him.
It is anticipated that the High Court will make the decision in relation to the Ronan Stack case this year. In the meantime, solicitors whose clients have been convicted of drunken driving are appealing these convictions to the Circuit Court and the current practice of the Circuit Court in County Cork is to postpone making a decision on the “Evidenzer Defence” until the High Court has given a decision in the Ronan Stack case.
Fleming and Barrett Bandon Solicitors both in the District and Circuit Courts in West Cork represent a number of people in these Evidenzer cases and await the High Court result. In the meantime our clients are still “on the road.