Thurles District Courthouse
A District Court Judge issued a stern warning about the use of cannabis after a Thurles driver was found to be driving while he exceeded the legal cannabis limit in his system.
Garda Peter Kennedy stopped Jamie Donoghue on the Mill Road, Thurles, on April 1, 2019.
Mr Donoghue, of 19 The Glebe, Thurles, was arrested after a roadside test showed a reading of ‘fail’ for having a cannabis type substance in his system.
Mr Donoghue provided a blood sample at Thurles garda station, which showed that he exceeded the limit in relation to cannabis.
Garda Jeremiah Hogan stopped Mr Donoghue in Mitchell Street, Thurles, on April 21, 2020. Garda Hogan said his attention was drawn to the manner of Mr Donoghue’s driving.
Garda Hogan made a lawful demand for a sample which showed positive for cannabis.
One sample later showed a blood/cannabis concentration of 80.4 ng/ml. The legal limit is 5, said garda Hogan.
Mr Donoghue was charged with driving a vehicle with excess cannabis in his system, on both occasions.
He has 18 previous convictions, mostly for traffic offences.
Solicitor Colin Morrissey said Mr Donoghue, 31, had been in a “small bit of bother” in his younger years. He is residing with his partner and they have an 8-year-old child. “He does not drink. He would have smoked cannabis on a regular basis,” said Mr Morrissey.
Mr Donoghue always maintained a car. New legislation surrounding cannabis use has been introduced, and cannabis stays in the system for a long time, added Mr Morrissey.
“One of those levels was exceedingly high,” said Judge Elizabeth MacGrath.
Mr Donoghue is not an addict, but was a habitual user, although this has “tapered off” due to his driving, and relationships with his family. “He apologises to the court. He is known to the gardaí. He knew when he was tested that it was in his system,” said Mr Morrissey.
Judge MacGrath noted the guilty plea.
The new legislation was not introduced for some “bureaucratic reason” but because driving with cannabis taken, “affects your ability to drive and impairs it.”
“There is a general view that cannabis does no harm at all,” added Judge MacGrath, but it can clearly lead to the development of paranoia. “That should be a driver for you to kick this habit,” she told Mr Donoghue. “I know it’s not an easy thing to do.”
Judge MacGrath said she would treat both incidents as contemporaneous. Mr Donoghue was fined €150 in relation to garda Kennedy’s charge, and €300 in respect of garda Hogan’s charge.
Mr Donoghue was disqualified from driving for one year on both offences.
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