Drink Driving Case Studies
In late 2018 my client was charged with being in charge of a motor car whilst over the legal alcohol limit. In short, the police had found him asleep in his car during the early hours of the morning. The breath result was well over twice the limit. His explanation was that he had taken the decision to sleep there because he knew he had had too much to drink, and in the morning he had planned to contact either his parents or someone else to pick him up and driving home. He would then have collected his car much later in the day when he was safe to drive. The police did not believe him and so they charged him with the offence. The conviction would have led to a minimum disqualification of 12 months and for him a disastrous loss of job.
In January 2019 a toxicology report was obtained and presented to the Crown Prosecution Service in February. It showed the time when my client would have been below the legal limit. Other evidence was produced to show that it was very likely he would not have driven before this time. The evidence was reviewed, and the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case.
In this case my client was a Spanish national whose first language was Spanish and whose English was at best adequate. The issue at his trial was his understanding of the process at the police station. For all motorists there are strict requirements and protections.
Mr G was stopped on a road in Surrey and arrested on suspicion of drink-driving. At the police station he was taken through the breath testing procedure, but because his English was inadequate police had to engage the services of an interpreter. This was done by telephone as these events took place early hours of the morning. The police officers themselves took little care to ensure that my client actually understood the process he was going through. He provided two samples of breath that were over the legal limit, and he was charged with drink driving. I obtained the recording from the police station and had that translated by a properly qualified interpreter. That revealed the interpreter used by police had not explained certain critical things accurately. As a result the court decided my client had been misled when providing his samples of breath and ruled the results inadmissible. He was found not guilty.
Miss W was arrested in central London during the early hours of the morning in mid-2016. She had failed a roadside breath test and was taken to a City of London police station where she was required to provide two evidential samples. Before a motorist provides such samples police have to check that during a period of 20 minutes prior thereto nothing has been eaten, drunk, consumed or “brought up from the stomach”. The police asked my client if she had brought anything up from her stomach and she responded by saying that she had. Despite this, police proceeded to take samples of breath from her straightaway and did not wait 20 minutes. The results were over the legal limit and she was charged with drink driving. A trial took place at Westminster magistrates court, and her defence was that the breath results were unreliable. Police have to wait 20 minutes because if something is brought up from the stomach it might contain alcohol which distorts the reading. Despite the police officer admitting that he did not wait 20 minutes, the magistrates rejected the arguments for reasons that were never entirely clear. I took the matter to appeal to Southwark Crown Court where a judge had little difficulty in ruling the samples must have been contaminated and her conviction was overturned.
In 2016 I represented a young driver who was arrested and quickly taken to a police station in Kent. During the process of providing samples of breath, police failed to properly explain the process to him and so the samples were not taken strictly in accordance with the statutory procedure. The Crown Prosecution Service accepted deficiencies and dropped the proceedings.
In early 2018 my client Mr S was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving and provided breath results at the police station that were very high. With the assistance of evidence from witnesses and a toxicology calculation, I was able to show to the court that some of the alcohol should be discounted as it was consumed after he had stopped driving. Whilst he pleaded guilty to being over the limit, he received a substantially reduced sentence because some of the alcohol was discounted.
In 2015 I represented Mr B in drink drive proceedings following his provision of two samples of urine. Careful analysis of the process followed by police revealed that they had not provided my client with his share of the sample in accordance with the statutory requirement to do so. It had been delayed by a short but critical period of time. Samples had been taken on the 25 December but my client’s share was made available on the 30 January. Prosecution accepted it created a risk the police had breached Section 15(5) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. The charge was dropped by CPS.
In 2016 I represented Mr B who was charged with drink driving. He had been the passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a minor road accident in a town centre very early hours of the morning. Unbeknown to him the driver had been drinking and immediately after the accident left the scene. The vehicle could not be safely left where it had come to rest and so my client carefully drove it a short distance to safely park it. Police arrived as the event was being caught on CCTV. He was breathalysed, was over the limit and was charged with drink driving. I successfully argued special reasons based on emergency and the shortness of distance driven. The judge exercised discretion not to disqualify him but to order his licence to be endorsed with penalty points instead.
In 2017 I represented Miss P whose drinks had been spiked so that she unwittingly consumed alcohol. With the help of witnesses and a toxicology report I was able to establish that she would not have been over the limit had her drinks not been interfered with. The court did not disqualify her.