Supporting Local News

Teetotaller in good spirits following drunk-driving conviction error

A teetotaller from Conamara was baffled to learn he was convicted of drunken driving – despite never touching a drop of the demon drink!

Respected freelance journalist Máirtín Ó Catháin from Carna is effectively a pioneer, although he isn’t an official member of the Total Abstinence Association. He only ever drank alcohol once – when his late mother gave him poitín aged 11 to cure a flu!

And so, he was shocked to recently learn that, according to official records, he had been disqualified under Section 49 of the Road Traffic Act by a District Court in Waterford in 2012 – despite never drinking and not being in Waterford when official records said the offence occurred.

But after months of toing and froing between various State organisations, Máirtín Ó Catháin – ‘the drink driver who never drank and never drove drunk’ – had his name cleared, with an official letter from the National Drivers Licence Service (NDLS) confirming his innocence.

Mr Ó Catháin said the convoluted story emerged a couple of months ago when he was renewing his car insurance. He rang the NDLS office to get confirmation for the new insurer that his record was clean.

It was confirmed to him that penalty points accrued for going over the speed limit on the N59 in Connemara had expired, but the NDLS man reminded him of a Section 49 conviction from over a decade ago.

Mr Ó Catháin was shocked – it was the first he’d heard of it – and explained he never touched alcohol. But the details of the conviction checked out – the driver convicted of drunk driving had the same name, date of birth and address as him.

According to official documents, the NDLS said he was found guilty of drunk driving in the District Court of Waterford City on November 28, 2012. He was, according to documents, put off the road between May 2012 to June 2013.

Aside from not drinking and not driving while drunk, Mr Ó Catháin knew he wasn’t in Waterford District Court and hadn’t been driving in Waterford the day he was supposedly stopped for drink driving.

To restore his good name, Mr Ó Catháin had to contact Gardaí in Galway and Waterford, the Courts Service in Waterford, and the NDLS several times.

After much effort, he finally got a letter from the NDLS, which confirmed he was never caught nor convicted of drink driving.

Mr Ó Catháin said a benign interpretation of the matter was that it was human error, but he still does not know how or why it happened – and he only learned about it by accident.

“I was shocked about what happened. I effectively never drank in my life. I was not in Waterford at that time, and I would like to know how it happened,” he told the Connacht Tribune.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up