Co Antrim drink-driver was more than five times over limit

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A Co Antrim man is believed to have had the highest-ever detected drink-drive reading in Northern Ireland.

James McCurdy, 48, of Ashbrook Park in Balnamore near Ballymoney, was more than five times the limit after he was found slumped in a vehicle which crashed at 12.56am on Monday February 25.

He registered 185 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, with the legal limit being 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

The defendant appeared at Coleraine Magistrates’ Court on Monday and pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol in his breath.

When District Judge Peter King heard the reading he said: “I think we may have a record here.”

A prosecutor said police were called to a report of a vehicle being involved in a collision at Balnamore Road, Ballymoney, and the defendant was slumped over and was so drunk he had to be lifted out of the vehicle by officers.

His speech was slurred and he was unable to respond to questions, the court heard.

Judge King said it was a “gross amount” of alcohol which was more than five times the legal limit.

A defence lawyer said his client was a “man of good character” but at the time of the offence he had been on a three-month drinking binge.

He said McCurdy was also on medication for arthritis which further impaired the driving.

The lawyer said the defendant never previously even had a penalty point and was “embarrassed” at being in court and was relieved no one was injured by his actions.

Judge King said the previous clear record made the case “completely inexplicable”.

He said the level of drink involved meant he was not prepared to deal with the case straight away as he said it was probably the highest reading he had ever heard.

Sentencing was adjourned to the end of April for a pre-sentence report to be prepared, but McCurdy left the court with an interim driving disqualification.