Driver was almost three times over the legal limit

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A man who was almost three times the drink limit claimed he had bought a new car and after going to a friend’s house to show it off he had taken alcohol.

Jan Merunka (31), a welder, of Larne Street, Ballymena, struck another car in a damage-only accident at the town’s Galgorm Road at 11.40pm on December 9 last year, a prosecutor told Ballymena Magistrates Court.

The defendant had an alcohol/breath reading of 103, with the legal limit being 35. A defence lawyer said his client had bought the car, a Volkswagen Passat, and had been intending to drive home a short distance from a friend’s house where he had gone to show the new “purchase” but had taken some drinks.

The lawyer said the defendant had only travelled a few hundred yards and it was a low impact collision.

The lawyer said Merunka got the car to give him more freedom to get to work instead of having to rely on others to take him. He said his client had shown remorse.

Merunka pleaded guilty to charges of driving with excess alcohol; absence of insurance and failing to produce a driving licence and was given a two months jail term, suspended for 18 months; banned from driving for three years and fined £300. District Judge Peter King said it was absolutely essential that the court imposed a significant penalty to “protect other road users.”