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Drink Driving Defences

Drink driving is a complicated area of law and the result of being convicted of a drink driving offence can have dramatic consequences on your ability to drive, your employment and your lifestyle.

There are a number of defences available for drink driving cases ranging from disputing the fundamental facts of the case, to legal defences and to technical defences.

As experts in drink driving cases we are well placed to examine your case in detail and if there is a defence then we will put forward the strongest possible case and defend your driving licence.

Driving Offence Defence is headed by Carl Millar who is an expert road traffic solicitor and a specialist in drink driving cases. You can call Carl direct and for free on 0800 999 5535 or in case of emergencies you can call 07855 806119 24 hours a day.

drink Driving Defences

Drink Driving Conviction

The consequences for being convicted of drink driving are far reaching. The starting sentence is one of between 12 and 36 months disqualification from driving, a substantial fine and associated court and victim costs.

Being able to drive is fundamental to anyone who holds a driving licence and having that ability taken away will cause a dramatic effect. Simple things such as going to the shops, visiting elderly relatives or taking your children to school suddenly becomes a lot more of a problem.

Imagine what it is like when your car is taken in for a service and you are not given a courtesy car. It goes beyond inconvenient and means that you have to completely change the structure of your day … and that is only for one day.

Your job is probably dependant on your driving licence, as many employers need their employees to be able to drive. Having a driving licence may also be part of your employment contract.

Losing your driving licence through a drink driving conviction may therefore mean losing your job and your income. At this point losing your driving licence through a drink driving conviction goes far beyond just being inconvenient, it becomes life changing and not in a good way.

With drink driving law being so complicated and the ramifications of getting it wrong so massive, speaking to an expert solicitor in the field of drink driving cases becomes ever more important and getting the right representation at court vital.

Drink Driving Defences

Please find below a comprehensive list of drink driving defences. Be aware that all drink driving cases are different and not all or any of the drink driving defences listed may apply to your case. Drink driving is an area of law where expert legal advice is recommended.

Drink Driving Defence – Factual

This is where the fundamental facts of the drink driving case brought against you are in dispute. The simplest example here is that it the police have wrongly named you as driving the vehicle at the time of the drink driving offence; such as someone has falsely given your name and details as the driver of the vehicle.

Other successful factual drink driving defences have included that the person was not attempting to drive at the time, the vehicle they were driving was not mechanically propelled and that the offence did not occur on either a road or other public place.

Another factual drink driving defence that is not widely used is that of “necessity” or “duress of circumstances”. The law is very strict on this point and it and the courts will apply a test to assess whether the defence is available or not to the case at hand. The test is applied objectively to the drink driving case and the defendant needs to show that at the time of the drink driving offence they were;

“acting reasonable and proportionately in order to avoid a threat of death or serious injury”. R v. Martin [1989].

The defence of duress of circumstances is highly complicated but a right and proper defence. If this defence maybe applicable to your case, as with all drink driving defenced please call us today and discuss it further with us.

Drink Driving Defence – Post Driving Consumption Of Alcohol (The Hip Flask Defence)

There are some drink driving cases where there is a delay between the driver being stopped by the police and an evidential sample being taken. This evidential sample could be breath, urine or blood.

During this delay and for whatever reason, the accused driver may have consumed alcohol, which then puts them over the prescribed drink driving limit, when in reality at the time of driving they would have been under the drink driving limit.

This is not a drink driving defence that can be put forward without supporting evidence and in such cases an expert in drink driving back calculations would be instructed in direct support of your case and defence.

If is can be shown through the expert evidence that at the time of driving you were not over the drink driving limit then you will be found not guilty of the offence of drink driving.

Drink Driving Defence – Procedural Errors

When procedural errors are raised as a drink driving defence these are often reported as being “loopholes”. This phrase is wrongly applied as what is being challenged is the way the police have made their case out against you.

It is a fundamental aspect of English law that it is for the prosecution to prove their case against you so that the Court can be sure of your guilt and only when the prosecution have made the court sure can anyone be safely convicted of an offence of drink driving.

In challenging the procedure used by the police in a drink driving case the defence is that the evidence brought by the prosecution is so unsafe that it can’t be relied upon in a case to prosecute you for drink driving and that you should be acquitted of the offence.

Such procedures that should be examined are:

Statutory Warning – Before the police can take an evidential sample from you for the purposes of a drink driving case, they must warn you that a failure to provide such a specimen can constitute an offence for which you may be persecuted. This is termed as the “Statutory Warning” and if it is not given then you are entitled to be acquitted of the offence of drink driving. Should it be the case that you dispute the Statutory Warning was given then the CCTV footage from the police station can be sought to give support to your defence.
Taking Of Urine Samples – When urine samples are taken, two of these samples must be given within an hour of each other. Failure to do so, or if there is not enough time or if a single sample is split into two, then this evidence becomes inadmissible and you will be acquitted of the offence of drink driving.
Failure To Offer A Sample Of Blood Or Urine – When blood or urine specimens are taken as part of the drink driving case, it is imperative that the police offer you samples of those specimens so that you can have them independently tested if you so wish. If the police do not offer you these samples, or upon request they do not provide them a legal challenge maybe made following which you maybe acquitted of the offence of drink driving.
Continuity Of Blood And Urine Specimens – Where the prosecution rely upon blood and urine specimens in a drink driving case the defence can request evidence of continuity to confirm the identity of the person from whom the samples were taken and who has had access to these samples for testing and examination. If the prosecution are unable to prove this continuity it may be lead to an acquittal for a drink driving case.

Drink Driving Defence – Reliability Of Breathalyser Equipment

In an attempt to prove a drink driving case the prosecution may rely upon evidence from a breath test. There will normally be two evidential breath tests in a drink driving case, one at the road side and a more accurate one at the police station. At the police station the breath testing equipment has to be approved by the Secretary of State and the current equipment used is the CAMIC Datamaster, the Intoximeter EC/IR and the Lon Intoxilyser 6000UK.

Whist this equipment is approved and tested, if a drink driving case disputes the level of alcohol to breath recorded then we can request that the equipment is investigated and rightly challenge the accuracy of the evidence produced – Cracknell v. Willis [1988].

Investigations and challenges can include whether the machine was used properly, if it has been calibrated and maintained correctly and whether or not the machine has been modified in anyway such that the machine can not be deemed as being approved.

Drink Driving Related Offences And Specific Defences

Other than the recognised offence of drink driving there are other related offences for which defences also apply.

Failing To Provide A Specimen

If when asked to give a specimen of breath when asked to do so in a drink driving allegation you fail to do so then this creates the office of Failing To Provide A Specimen. However, there is a provision to this offence, that being without “reasonable excuse”. If a reasonable excuse is raised in your defence of this drink driving related offence then you should be acquitted.

A reasonable excuse is one where a person is physically and or mentally unable of giving the required specimen.

Failing To Provide A Specimen Of Breath

The majority of defences raised for failing to provide a specimen of breath are with regard to using the equipment at the police station. In these circumstances the issues relate to the accused not being able to provide a proper flow of air for the machine to give an effective reading. This will then be deemed by the police as a failure.

If however, the accused can raise a proper reasonable excuse and that excuse is accepted then it should result in an acquittal from the offence.

Such examples of defences based on a reasonable excuse include asthma, chest infection, anxiety and panic attacks, long term smoker, and small lung capacity.

In order to put forward a strong defence for this type of case, supporting medical evidence would need to be placed before the court in support of the reasonable excuse claimed.

Specimens Of Blood Or Urine

Similar to Failing To Provide A Specimen Of Breath is a Failure To Provide A Specimen Of Blood Or Urine. Again there is the provision of “reasonable excuse” and such defences have been put forward with those reasonable excuses being a fear or phobia of needles and prostate gland problems.

With reasonable excuse defences where a medical issue is raised, an expert medical report will be required to put the strongest possible defence forward.

Being Drunk In Charge Of A Motor Vehicle

Another drink driving related offence is that of Being Drunk In Charge Of A Motor Vehicle.

If you are charged with this offence then there is a defence that whereas you were in the car whist being over the drink driving limit or unfit to drive, you had no intention of in fact driving the vehicle at all.

These type of drink driving related cases sometimes revolve around someone who has had more than the drink driving limit of alcohol but decides to sleep in their car as they had no where else to go.

In raising the defence that you would not have intended to drive the vehicle expert medical evidence would be required to show the level of your intoxication at the time of the alleged offence and the time at which you would have been able to drive again legally.

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What To Do Now?

We have helped many people who faced road traffic offences in the courts. With our experience, we have helped save driving licences for people who rely on their cars for work and family.

We are experts in our field. We are not judgemental and only want to offer you the best advice and representation when you are facing the courts and a possible disqualification from driving.

Contact us today by clicking here or calling 0800 999 5535 and speak to a specialist Road Traffic Solicitor. We will be able to talk you through your case and advise you on what to do next.

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