x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Woman 'unaware cocktails were alcoholic'

A woman caught driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana tells court she did not know cocktails served at a pub contained alcohol.

ABU DHABI // A woman caught driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana told a court today she did not know cocktails served at a pub would contain alcohol.

GM, an American of Egyptian origin, told the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court that the marijuana must have been in a cigarette she smoked before travelling to the UAE on March 25 to celebrate her sister's engagement.

"When did you smoke that cigarette," asked Chief Justice Sayed Abdul Baseer, head of the court.

She replied that could not pinpoint the cigarette in question, as she would not have known that it contained the drug when she smoked it.

The young woman was arrested on April 1 after she called the police to report that she had crashed while driving her father's car.

"You drove under the influence of alcohol, not taking precautions ... you tried a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre and suddenly swerved causing damage to the vehicle," read out the judge from the list of charges.

The woman said she was not aware she had been consuming alcohol as she could not taste it in the cocktails she was drinking at a pub before the crash. "Then what do you think people do at the pub?" asked Chief Justice Abdul Baseer.

She replied that when a person is over 21 bartenders do not warn them that their drink contains alcohol.

But the judge was unimpressed, saying: "Guide us to that hotel so people can go and have alcoholic cocktails without knowing!"

The woman then replied that her friends had already ordered the cocktails when she arrived and she was thus not aware of what she was drinking.

She also denied attempting a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre, saying "I would've killed myself and those with me."

Her father appeared in court to present an official withdrawal of his right to damages.

A Palestinian man, AM, who was arrested with the woman, denied drinking alcohol. "I play sports so I had the energy drink Red Bull," he told the court.

"Whether you play sports or gymnastics did you have alcohol or not?" asked the judge, who added that he understood Red Bull to be alcoholic.

However, the man's lawyer explained that Red Bull does not contain alcohol and presented a test result from the police forensics lab which showed the man had tested negative for alcohol.

"Then why did he confess to the police?" asked the judge.

The lawyer replied that he just wanted to get the case over with.

He asked the judge to bail out both defendants because the engagement party for the woman's sister had been postponed twice already and was scheduled for this Friday.

"They have to pay Dh100,000 every time they postpone. Let's look at it from a humanitarian angle," he said.

The judge granted both defendants bail in exchange for their passports. He scheduled a verdict for May 28.

hdajani@thenational.ae