Belfast Telegraph

Three-year ban for Tyrone drink-driver who smashed car into lamp post

Fines totalling £500 were imposed along with an overall driving disqualification of three years (stock photo)
Fines totalling £500 were imposed along with an overall driving disqualification of three years (stock photo)

By Staff Reporter

A drunk driver from Co Tyrone - caught twice within a matter of months in the same place - turned up in court yesterday wearing a jumper with 'Merry Kiss My A**' emblazoned across the chest.

One incident involved Ruslanas Berniukevic smashing his car into a lamppost.

Standing in the dock of Dungannon Magistrates Court, Berniukevic (25), from Killowen, Coalisland, pleaded guilty to all matters.

In the first instance, police were called to a report of a Vauxhall Astra colliding with a lamppost at The Square, Coalisland shortly before 1am on June 23.

A witness spoke to Berniukevic at the scene who asked her not to call police, before driving away.

Officers conducted a search and located the car a short distance away.

On speaking to Berniukevic, an odour of alcohol was immediately detected and he was arrested.

However, while in custody Berniukevic refused to provide a specimen of breath.

He was interviewed the next day and claimed: "Someone else was driving the car when it crashed into the lamppost."

He argued that having viewed the damage, he decided to drive the car back home.

In relation to failing to provide a breath specimen, he claimed to have been "stressed out".

Officers told Berniukevic he would be reported for prosecution.

Despite this matter pending, he was detected again in the same location but in a different car.

At 10.30pm on November 8, police were patrolling The Square, Coalisland when they carried out a database check on a Renault Laguna, which was showing as uninsured.

They stopped the vehicle and found Berniukevic behind the wheel, and again an odour of alcohol was detected.

He was arrested and while in custody provided an evidential breath test which returned a reading of 83mcg of alcohol, well over twice the legal limit.

A defence lawyer told the court Berniukevic fully accepted the facts of both instances.

In respect of the first matter of failing to provide a breath specimen, it was again contended Berniukevic was "shocked and stressed" by the earlier collision.

In the second instance, the defence said his client had been drinking at home before foolishly deciding to drive to a shop for cigarettes.

District Judge Michael Ranaghan remarked: "There is only one realistic outcome given these matters occurred within a short space of time.

"There can only be a lengthy disqualification, particularly as the second matter was aggravated by no insurance."

Fines totalling £500 were imposed along with an overall driving disqualification of three years.

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