Drug driver banned from the roads

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Off-duty police officers who swerved to avoid a car speeding towards them through single track roadworks, saw a cannabis joint in the driver’s mouth and tipped off colleagues back at the station.

Tommy Mulholland of The Caravan at Arduaine Farm, Kimelford, was found guilty of drug driving at Oban Sheriff Court last week. He was banned from driving for 12 months and fined £300.

The 28-year-old, who represented himself at court, was driving his dad’s car on the A816 just after midnight on August 29 last year when it happened close to Craobh Haven.

The off-duty officers told how temporary traffic lights had just changed to green when they set off through the works but had to slam on the brakes and pull over to  avoid a collision as Mulholland came speeding towards them.

Mulholland also had to swerve into the verge through the cones and the two cars came up alongside each other at a crawling rate before continuing their journeys, the court heard.

The police officers described seeing the male driver with ‘a long white joint in his mouth.’ Because of that, and his erratic driving, they informed on-duty colleagues.

Before the car was stopped, other officers looking out  for it saw it fluctuating in speed and swaying into the other side of the carriageway. They could smell the cannabis coming from it, even in the police car metres away.

Police who arrested him at the roadside called for a doctor to attend Lochgilphead police station to check him over once they got back. However, the doctor who examined him about one and a half hours later,  concluded she could not find any impairment.

Mulholland, who works as a hotel sous-chef,  said he had pleaded not guilty to the charge of being unfit to drive through drugs because of legal advice  from the Citizens Advice Bureau  based on the doctor saying he was ‘not in an unfit state’.

Procurator Fiscal David Glancy said cannabis was ‘a lingering feature’ of the case and the doctor’s evidence was ‘not fatal’ to the the Crown’s submission. ‘We’ve got evidence from officers, on separate accounts, the accused was driving under the influence of drugs,’ he said.

The court heard from police evidence how Mulholland, smelling of cannabis, had been unsteady on his feet, his eyes were glazed and his speech was jumbled and slurred when police stopped him.

Mulholland told the court the traffic lights had been on amber when he drove through but said he was ‘nowhere close’ to being inebriated on marijuana and would not have driven if he was.

Searching the car, police found a half-smoked joint in the driver’s side pocket and a full ready-to-smoke joint on the  dashboard behind the steering wheel. A tub containing 4.5 grams of cannabis was also found in Mulholland’s trouser pocket.

‘I did have a joint but once I’d tasted it, I didn’t smoke it because it was too strong. I was in my dad’s car and I did not want to stub it out and cause damage, that’s why it was half-smoked. I didn’t want to throw it out of the car either because of the monetary value it cost me,’ he said.

Mulholland also told the court he had veered across white lines because he was trying to cut short his journey to Tarbert. The drive should normally take 35 minutes but in his dad’s old Volvo it could take one hour and 45 minutes, he said.

Oban sheriff Patrick Hughes said: ‘I’m satisifed your driving was impaired that night and the reason for that was drugs. The evidence from the doctor does not raise doubt in my mind.’