1. Have you been charged with drink driving?
or
2. You are facing the daunting allegation of drink driving, the consequences of this could be shattering because of the driving ban you now face.

We understand the effect this can have on yours and you families life and we realise how stressful this time can be for you.

There will be plenty of questions going on in your head right now:
– Will I be banned?
– If I am banned how long will it be for?
– Will I go to prison?
– How much will legal advice be?
– The police treated me well, do I even have a defence?

These are all legitimate questions we would expect you to have and our legal team will be on the end of the phone to help you answer them.

For a first time offender there is a minimum 12 month disqualification. Depending on the circumstances the length of the ban may increase, this would be where the alcohol reading is quite high. You may also face a fine or community order. If your breath reading is abnormally high you may face a prison sentence of up to 6 months.

A conviction of drink driving can have an impact on most aspects of your life, from losing your job, car insurance increasing or your daily living routing.

If you have already been convicted of drink driving in the last 10 years you will be facing a minimum ban of 3 years.

Drink Driving Defences

There are a number of defences available to someone facing a drink driving allegation.

Identification

The Court must find that you were the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence. If the police officers witnessed, you are driving and pulled you over ID would probably not be an issue we would raise. If you were outside the vehicle when the police arrived, we may be able to put the prosecution to proof on this point.

The CPS can face problems with proving this defence. They will be basing their case on circumstantial evidence, which can be unlikely to prove beyond doubt that you drove the car. Circumstantial evidence may include a witness seen you driving, you made a roadside admission to an officer or the vehicle belongs to you.

 

Police station procedure

The procedure that the police must follow at the police station is complex and technical. This may work to your advantage if the Police have not fully complied with their duties. At the police station you are required to give a breath, blood or urine specimen which can ultimately lead you to being prosecuted. The only way that evidence can be used against you is if the procedure is completed correctly. If any procedural errors occur it may lead to the CPS dropping your case, or the case failing at trial if fought properly.

As you know the amount of alcohol you consume reduces in your body overtime. If you failed a (non-evidential) roadside test the police most likely have rushed you back to the station so they can try to obtain a high breath reading from you. This can lead to the police officer skipping vital parts of the Manual Guidance for Drink Driving Pro Form A (MGDDA) document.The MGDDA is a document which guides the officer through the questions and legal warnings he has to give you before asking you to provide the breath samples.

Reliability of the breath test

The use of an expert when defending a drink driving case can be important. If you feel that the result of the printout does not add up and is way over what you expected, we can instruct an expert to produce a report on the evidence you have given. This defence is formed from the case of Cracknell v Willis [1988]. It may also be beneficial to have witness evidence to support this as well, these can be people who accompanied you or bar staff who can confirm what you drank. The report may also call into question the reliability of the breathalyser machine itself. If it is shown that the result is unreliable this may lead to the evidence being dismissed and ultimately your case being dropped.

Urine

Providing a urine sample is probably the most uncommon and complex sample for testing. The procedure itself is very complicated, time consuming and the results are often unreliable. The police can choose if they would like you to provide a urine sample if a breath or blood sample cannot be taken.

You have one hour to provide two specimens or urine. The first sample is discarded by the officer. After this sample you should then be given a certain amount of time to refill your bladder. The second sample is then obtained and split into two. One part is sent to the laboratory to be tested and the second should be given to you to be tested, if you so wish.

The officer must have the legal authority to obtain this sample and document it correctly on the MGDDB.

Identification

The Court must find that you were the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence. If the police officers witnessed, you are driving and pulled you over ID would probably not be an issue we would raise. If you were outside the vehicle when the police arrived, we may be able to put the prosecution to proof on this point.

The CPS can face problems with proving this defence. They will be basing their case on circumstantial evidence, which can be unlikely to prove beyond doubt that you drove the car. Circumstantial evidence may include a witness seen you driving, you made a roadside admission to an officer or the vehicle belongs to you.

 

Police station procedure

The procedure that the police must follow at the police station is complex and technical. This may work to your advantage if the Police have not fully complied with their duties. At the police station you are required to give a breath, blood or urine specimen which can ultimately lead you to being prosecuted. The only way that evidence can be used against you is if the procedure is completed correctly. If any procedural errors occur it may lead to the CPS dropping your case, or the case failing at trial if fought properly.

As you know the amount of alcohol you consume reduces in your body overtime. If you failed a (non-evidential) roadside test the police most likely have rushed you back to the station so they can try to obtain a high breath reading from you. This can lead to the police officer skipping vital parts of the Manual Guidance for Drink Driving Pro Form A (MGDDA) document.The MGDDA is a document which guides the officer through the questions and legal warnings he has to give you before asking you to provide the breath samples.

If you do not believe the officer has completed this procedure get in touch today on 0161 820 1999 and we can discuss this in greater detail.

Reliability of the breath test

The use of an expert when defending a drink driving case can be important. If you feel that the result of the printout does not add up and is way over what you expected, we can instruct an expert to produce a report on the evidence you have given. This defence is formed from the case of Cracknell v Willis [1988]. It may also be beneficial to have witness evidence to support this as well, these can be people who accompanied you or bar staff who can confirm what you drank. The report may also call into question the reliability of the breathalyser machine itself. If it is shown that the result is unreliable this may lead to the evidence being dismissed and ultimately your case being dropped.

Urine

Providing a urine sample is probably the most uncommon and complex sample for testing. The procedure itself is very complicated, time consuming and the results are often unreliable. The police can choose if they would like you to provide a urine sample if a breath or blood sample cannot be taken.

You have one hour to provide two specimens or urine. The first sample is discarded by the officer. After this sample you should then be given a certain amount of time to refill your bladder. The second sample is then obtained and split into two. One part is sent to the laboratory to be tested and the second should be given to you to be tested, if you so wish.

The officer must have the legal authority to obtain this sample and document it correctly on the MGDDB.

If any fault is found within the procedure or you feel the police did not treat you fairly in custody please contact us on 0161 820 1999 or use the online enquiry form where we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Reliability of the blood test

A specimen of blood can be provided when

  • There is no breath testing device available at the police station
  • You cannot provide a breath sample due to medical reasons
  • You were taken to hospital not a police station

You cannot be charged with drink driving until the police receive the results of the blood test. It can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to get the results back, which clearly leaves you in the dark.

It would be advisable to obtain legal advice at this point because during that time we can contact the police and potentially get the case against you dropped.

The specimen of loos needs to be taken by a police doctor or nurse. We can challenge the reliability of the blood result just like with the breathalyser. When the police send away your specimen it is sent to a private police laboratory where it will be analysed. If we are not satisfied with the result we can develop an argument scrutinising the process as we not the court believe the result to be reliable.

At the first court hearing we may raise this as an issue. The PS before this date may have provided us a document known as the Streamlined Forensic Toxicology Report (SFR1) also known as the MG22 (b). This basic report contains some technical information including the method of analysis, the date the sample was received, the level of alcohol in the system and the name of the forensic scientist overseeing the analysis.

We would cross reference this information with the MGDDA and MGDDB documents. We would then highlight any problems to the prosecutor who could drop the case then.

When the SFR1 is disclosed to use we would ‘reject’ it in writing and orally at the first court appearance (if it has been disclosed), we would then request a full evaluative statement (SFR2) which should then be provided within 28 days after the first court hearing (which very rarely happens).

In most cases the CPS fail to disclose the data pack under section 19.3 of the Criminal Procedure Rules which states that it should be provided in a case that involves a forensic specimen. Many cases have been dropped because of the CPS failure.

We may also need to instruct an expert to comment on the reliability of the result meaning they will need full access to the data the lab have created. The expert will be able to comment on any irregularities.

 

Procedure at the hospital

There are circumstances, typically after an accident where the driver may be taken to the hospital. The police would usually require a specimen of blood to be taken. When a person is taken to a hospital they tend to be frightened and agile. Sometimes due to shock they may not understand the information that the police are trying to portray which can give rise to a further defence.

We must consider:

  • Was the MGDDC document filled out correctly and at the right time?
    • The police need to have filled this out properly as it is an essential piece of evidence.
  • Was your consent clear and unconditional?
    • If it was not the specimen cannot be used as evidence against you.
  • Did an A&E doctor give the police permission to take the sample from you?
    • They must have obtained this prior to the sample being taken.

AN officer can ask you to provide a preliminary breath test at the hospital. The results are non-evidential and cannot be used against you. It will should whether you are above the legal limit.

The doctor looking after you can object to the officer requesting that breath specimen, if it affects your treatment in any way.

The main purpose of the hospital procedure will be to obtain a blood or urine specimen from your body.

The MGDDC need stop be completed by the officer in your presence prior to the specimen being taken from you.

If you were awake and able to provide consent they must start the procedure at C5 and work through the form contemporaneously.

If you were incapable of providing your consent they must get the doctors’ consent to take the sample from your body this starts at C37 and they need to follow the procedure accordingly.

The police can obtain your informed consent at a later date, more than likely after you have been discharged from the hospital. The sample they have obtained is not allowed to be analysed until your consent has been obtained.

The police usually have 14 days after you have been released to obtain your consent. At this point the police can also use this as a strategy to have an informal interview with you which may result in further charges against you. If this sounds familiar to you please get in touch in 0161 820 1999 or on our online enquiry form.

Special Reasons

Every case is different and there are circumstances that we will find that a defence is not available but instead there were special reasons surrounding a case. Special reasons do not amount to a defence, instead it can lead to a disqualification being completely avoided.

Examples of this include spiked drinks and shortness of distance driven. Expert evidence may have to be introduced for this to be credible.

We have extensive experience and knowledge in this area to give you the correct advice and keeping a sentence to a minimum or avoided.

We strive to get the best results possible for each case.
Contact us today for your free initial advice to discuss your options.

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