'Disastrous' start to 2022 for drink driver caught at 12.20am on January 1

'Disastrous' start to 2022 for drink driver caught at 12.20am on January 1

A 22-year-old County Louth man had a "disastrous start" to 2022 when he was caught drink driving 20 minutes into the New Year.

Jason Joseph Mulligan, an apprentice electrician, of Marsh Road near Dundalk, pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol in his breath.

On Tuesday, a prosecutor told Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, that at 12.20am on January 1 this year, police were on patrol on the A26 in the Antrim town area and they used "lights and sirens" to stop a vehicle.

Officers noticed the defendant was "slurring his words".

He told police he was "driving to Dundalk".

He failed a preliminary breath test and when arrested and taken to Antrim town PSNI Station his reading was 46 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath - the legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

The defendant was not before the court nor was he on video link but defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine entered the guilty plea on his client's behalf.

Mr Ballentine said: "Yes, well a total, disastrous, start to the New Year".

The lawyer said the defendant had a previously clear record "and would never have dreamt previously of driving with alcohol".

He added: "It appears that he and his girlfriend had travelled up for New Year's Eve to spend the evening with her best friend in Antrim".

Mr Ballentine said they had been to a bar but a "row developed" between the defendant's girlfriend and the person they were to "spend the night with and the invitation was duly withdrawn for an overnight stay and then he decided it best to make their way back to Dundalk".

The solicitor said there was "nothing untoward" about the driving but given the time of year it was most likely a "routine check".

The lawyer said his client was "slightly over" the limit.

Mr Ballentine said the defendant was "suffering from Flu at the time and had nothing to eat and that is probably reflected in the reading".

The solicitor said the defendant had originally appeared at court in Ballymena on New Year's Day but a judge had adjourned sentencing to allow him to "get back home again".

At court on Tuesday, District Judge Nigel Broderick banned the defendant from driving for a year and fined him £300.