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Failing to Provide a Specimen

If someone is accused by the police of drink driving or being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle then they will be arrested and taken to the police station.  At the police station they will be asked to provide a specimen of breath on a breathalysing machine.  If they refuse then they will be charged with failing to provide a specimen of breath.  If the police suspect that they can’t provide the breath specimen because they have a medical condition or because the breathalysing machine is not working properly, then the police will ask them to provide a sample of blood or urine.  If they refuse to do this, then they will be accused of failing to provide a specimen of blood or urine.

Failing to provide a specimen is treated very seriously by the Magistrates Court because they do not want people avoiding a punishment for drink driving or being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle by simply refusing to give a specimen.  In extreme cases, the magistrates can therefore order a prison sentence.  If you face such an allegation contact our leading specialist motoring law solicitor, Philip Hatvany, who has been dealing with matters of this type for over 20 years and yet none of his clients have been sent to prison for this offence.


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Possible Defences

The police not following the correct procedure

An allegation of failing to provide a specimen may fail if it can be shown that the police did not follow the correct procedure at the police station.  The police are meant to have asked the accused a series of questions at the police station before asking for the specimen.  Also, they should have warned the detained person that failing to provide a specimen could result in a prosecution for a criminal offence.  At Speeding Law Solicitors, we are very skilled at identifying where such procedures were not followed, with the result that in such cases the client is normally found to be not guilty.  To assist in relation to this we will frequently acquire the CCTV evidence, which has an auditory record, from the police station which covers the relevant time.

A “reasonable excuse”

If the magistrates find that someone had a “reasonable excuse” for not providing a specimen of breath, blood or urine at the police station then they will find that person not guilty of this offence. 

Examples of a “reasonable excuse” for someone who fails to provide a specimen of breath maybe where a person suffers from;

  • asthma
  • panic attacks
  • chest infection
  • being a heavy smoker

In the case of a failure to provide a specimen of blood, a “reasonable excuse” could be a phobia of needles.

Concerning a failure to provide a urine sample, the “reasonable excuse” could be prostate problems.

In order to convince the magistrates that the reason being put forward is genuine and that it really did prevent the person from providing the required specimen we will always look to obtain medical documentation in support of the condition.

Examples Of Attempted "Defences" That Don't Work

  • It is a mistake to believe that it is a “reasonable excuse” for refusing to give a specimen because you were waiting for your solicitor to arrive at the police station to give you legal advice.  This will almost always fail as a defence because the courts are wary of delaying tactics being used in the hope that the alcohol level will drop before the specimen is taken.
  • It is a mistake to believe that it is a “reasonable excuse” for refusing to give a specimen because you were too drunk.
  • It is a mistake to believe that just because you were not actually driving, or because you had not consumed alcohol, that you do not need to give a specimen at the police station.  You may be found guilty of the offence of refusing to provide a specimen even if it later transpires that you never actually drank alcohol or drove.

The Penalties For Refusing To Provide A Specimen At The Police Station

Where you had been driving, or attempting to drive, before you failed to give a specimen of breath, blood or urine, the maximum penalty will be an unlimited fine and 6 months in prison.  You also must be disqualified from driving for at least twelve months.  If you had a previous conviction for a similar offence in the last ten years, then the minimum driving ban will be 3 years.

However, if you had simply been in charge of a motor vehicle before refusing to give a specimen of breath, blood or urine, then the maximum sentence would be a £2,500 fine and a 3 month prison sentence.  The magistrates may also disqualify you for any period.  If the magistrates choose not to disqualify you then they would have to impose 10 penalty points on your driving licence.  If this pushes your total amount of points to 12 penalty points or more then the court has to disqualify you for at least 6 months unless it can be shown that exceptional hardship would be suffered.  Our leading motoring solicitor, Philip Hatvany, has an enviable success rate of 90% (average over the last 10 years) for saving people’s driving licences.

Why You Should Contact Speeding Law Solicitors

If you face such an allegation, contact us for a free phone consultation with our leading road traffic specialist solicitor Philip Hatvany.  He is an exceptionally skilled solicitor at identifying defences.  He has an 85% success rate (average over the last 8 years) at trial in relation to motoring allegations.  If no defence can be found, he will tell you at an early stage.  He can then concentrate on preparing mitigation ( a plea for leniency) for the Magistrates Court hearing.  This involves preparing a well structured argument, where possible backed by documentation, as to why the magistrates should be lenient when it comes to sentencing.  Mr Hatvany regularly attends Portsmouth, Southampton, Bristol, Cardiff, Bath, Oxford, Reading, Coventry and Birmingham Magistrates' Courts.  He frequently visits London Magistrates Courts as well.  If your hearing is further afield, then we can use one of our barristers from our select pool, who are located throughout England and Wales, and who act under Mr Hatvany’s close supervision. In these case Mr Hatvany will still carry out all the preparation.  Call Mr Hatvany now for a FREE phone consultation on FREEPHONE 0800 909 8110.