Possible Defences To A Drink Drive Allegation
Our specialist motoring solicitor will always first consider if there is a defence for an alleged offence of this nature. Often, even when a client thinks they are guilty, there may in fact be a technical defence.
Defences in relation to police procedure
When someone is breathalysed at the police station, a strict procedure has to be followed by the police and if it isn’t then this can give rise to a defence. For instance;
- The police have to give a statutory warning before taking a sample of breath. This means that the police have to warn you that you may be prosecuted if you fail to provide a specimen of breath. If you believe that the police didn’t say such a warning to you, then we could acquire the CCTV footage, which has an auditory record, from the police station which covers the time the breath test was taken. This may show that no warning was given. If the magistrates can be shown that the police failed to do this, then you will be found not guilty at trial of drink driving, even if the police had gone on and taken a specimen of breath which showed that you were over the limit.
- Also if the police fail to ask certain standard questions of you at the police station before the breath test procedure takes place, this may constitute a defence.
The post-alcohol consumption or "hip flask" defence
We have frequently argued on behalf of clients who were not stopped by the police whilst driving that they were in fact below the drink drive limit at the time they were driving. We have often stated in these cases that the alcohol in their system that pushed their reading over the limit at the police station was in fact consumed after they had stopped driving.
When arguing this defence, we will instruct one of our scientific experts to provide a “back calculation” report which will provide evidence to show that you were below the legal limit at the time that you were driving.
Some other possible defences
- You weren’t driving on a road or other public place i.e. you were driving on private property. However, it should be noted that a car park will normally be treated as a “public place”.
- You were not driving or attempting to drive.
- You were acting under duress, for example, you were having to drive because you were being threatened.
- The breathalysing machine at the police station was not working properly.
We believe solicitors should be totally up-front about whether a defence really is available. At Speeding Law Solicitors we will tell you at an early stage whether you have a defence or not. Even if no defence is available, we may be able to save your driving licence by arguing “special reasons”. If the magistrates find “special reasons” then they do not have to disqualify you from driving, even though you are technically guilty of the offence of drink driving. Examples of “special reasons” arguments are as follows;
- You only drove a very short distance
- Your drink was spiked without your knowledge
- It was an emergency situation, for example, you were driving someone to hospital.
Drink Driving Sentence
As has been mentioned, if you are found guilty of this offence there is a mandatory driving disqualification for a minimum period of one year. However, if it is your second offence in the last ten years then the minimum driving ban will be three years. You will also be ordered to pay a fine, which is unlimited. You can face a prison sentence of up to 6 months in a more serious case or if you are a repeat offender. The magistrates also frequently impose a community order with a condition of supervision, unpaid work or a curfew.
The magistrates have a discretion to offer you a chance to take a drink drive rehabilitation course. If you complete such a course within a certain time limit then the length of your driving disqualification is normally reduced by a quarter.
Speeding Law Solicitors - The Leading Drink Driving Solicitors
Our leading motoring law specialist solicitor, Philip Hatvany, is an expert in this field. Defences for drink driving are often very technical and complex and a good solicitor frequently makes all the difference. Even if no defence is available, through carefully preparing mitigation (a plea for leniency) Philip Hatvany often makes a huge difference in relation to the sentence that the magistrates finally pass. Mr Hatvany is very experienced and regularly attends Cardiff, Bristol, Bath, Portsmouth, Southampton, Birmingham, Coventry, Oxford and Reading Magistrates Courts. As well as these, he often works at Magistrates Courts in London. Even if your hearing is at a more distant court we can still provide representation using one of our barristers from our select pool who are located throughout England and Wales and who operate under Mr Hatvany’s close supervision. In such cases Mr Hatvany would carry out all the preparation. Call Philip Hatvany now for a FREE telephone consultation on FREEPHONE 0800 909 8110.