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Drunk In Charge

This offence is usually committed where the owner of the vehicle is seen by the police to be inside or near a stationery vehicle with the keys whilst over the legal limit.

The punishment is less severe than driving with excess alcohol (10 penalty points or a relatively short driving ban).

We adopt a methodical four stage process to safeguard your license

STEP ONE – GENERAL DEFENCES

We will assess your case to see of any of the following general defences apply to your case

No likelihood of driving

A driving ban can be avoided where it is demonstrated (usually with a scientists report) that at the time you would have next driven the vehicle, you would not have been over the limit due to the alcohol leaving your system over time.

Private land

Where you are parked on a private road or place e.g. car park the offence of drunk in charge may not have been committed as the vehicle must be found in a public place. Some car parks are open to the public but have limited class of users. In this case you may escape a conviction for drink drive. For example, in one case decided by the Courts, a university campus was held to be private land.

Amount of alcohol consumed

We can argue the alcohol level is inaccurate if you did not drink enough to take you over the legal limit. A scientific calculation can be used to demonstrate that you should have been under the legal limit with the alcohol consumed. The prosecution will then be required to prove that the sample was not contaminated. The police often have difficulty with this.

If these legal defences do not apply or are not successful we can still attempt to avoid a ban by challenging police station procedure.

STEP TWO – POLICE STATION PROCEDURE

We can view the CCTV from the police station or the officers body worn video in hospital cases to assess whether there has been a significant  breakdown in police procedure.

In this situation the Court has the power to disallow all prosecution evidence against you, resulting in dismissal of the charges.

These are just a few examples, many of which have been used successfully to avoid bans for clients of this firm.

1/3 Breath sample cases

We can check the CCTV from the breath test room to check whether any of these common police mistakes apply to your case.

If they do then a legal application can be made to exclude the breath specimen resulting in the charges being dismissed against you.

These are just a few examples, many of which have been used successfully to avoid bans for clients of this firm.

  • The 19 page breath test booklet is not competed before the breath test procedure so the officer can be satisfied all precautions have been taken.
  • The police officer fails to rule out potential sources of contamination by asking questions about medication, breath spray, mouthwash or anything inhaled in the 20 minutes before the police station breath test procedure
  • The two breath samples taken are too far apart and beyond the acceptable difference which is 15%
  • The officer disregards or overlooks the significance of messages on the display of the breath test device which require the breath test procedure to be abandoned
  • If you are not given a warning before the breath test the prosecution must fail
  • The officer fails to take a blood or urine where the breath test device is unreliable
  • Where an officer expresses doubts about the machine for good reason they must take an alternative sample
  • The operator must comply with the manufacturer’s instructions on the handling of the mouthpiece to avoid contamination
  • The officers sometimes fail to rule out the risk of interference from radio transmissions in breach of home office circulars.
  • The officer does not have the training required to operate the machine.
  • The police officer must take a blood sample where your demeanour and amount of alcohol consumed is not consistent with the breath level
  • The police fail to arrange an assessment by a police doctor before an interview where you have sustained injuries.

We have a panel of experts with in depth knowledge of breath test procedure who produce reports commenting on these issues.

2/3 Blood specimen cases

We can check the CCTV from the police station or video footage from the officer’s body cam at the hospital to check whether any of these common police mistakes apply to your case.

If they do then a legal application can be made to exclude the blood specimen resulting in the charges being dismissed against you.

These are just a few examples, many of which have been used successfully to avoid bans for clients of this firm.

  • Where the officer fails to read out essential information from the blood specimen booklet this can invalidate the whole process
  • If the officer fails to state the reasons for you being offered blood then the prosecution must fail
  • The police must demonstrate they can account for the whereabouts of the blood sample at every stage of the testing process and that the sample not been tampered with. This is called ‘continuity’. Charges have been dismissed where the packaging is damaged when received by the laboratory, labels have been wrongly completed, serial numbers do not match or the officer has not completed the blood specimen booklet properly.
  • Where the blood sample has been taken due to the officer wrongly believing the breath test machine was unreliable.
  • The charges may be dismissed if the police fail to inquire about medical problems preventing you from providing blood, or dismiss medical reasons you give without consulting a doctor.
  • Refusing to allow a urine sample where you have a needle phobia.
  • The doctor fails to shake the container after taking the sample as required by guidance.
  • If you are not provided with your own blood sample, or not told how to store the sample, or you are discouraged from taking your blood sample away with you or having it tested, this may result in a defence to the charges.

If you have been given a blood sample we can have this tested using one of our approved independent labs. Cases have been dismissed because the blood alcohol level was below the legal limit.

3/3 Urine specimen cases

We can check the CCTV from the police station or video footage from the officer’s body cam at the hospital to check whether any of these common police mistakes apply to your case.

If they do then a legal application can be made to exclude the blood specimen resulting in the charges being dismissed against you.

These are just a few examples, many of which have been used successfully to avoid bans for clients of this firm.

  • Where the officer fails to read out essential information from the urine specimen booklet this can invalidate the whole process
  • If the officer fails to state the reasons for you being offered urine then the prosecution must fail
  • The police must demonstrate they can account for the whereabouts of the urine sample at every stage of the testing process and that the sample not been tampered with. This is called ‘continuity’. Charges have been dismissed where the packaging is damaged when received by the laboratory, labels have been wrongly completed, or the officer has not completed the urine specimen booklet properly.
  • Where the urine sample has been taken due to apparent problems with the breath test machine, the sample cannot be used in Court if there was actually nothing wrong with it.
  • The charges may be dismissed if the police initially took blood but discarded the blood sample believing insufficient liquid had been taken.
  • If you are not provided with your own urine sample, or not told how to store the sample, or you are discouraged from taking your urine sample away with you or having it tested, this may result in a defence to the charges.
  • If you have been given a urine sample we can have this tested using one of our approved independent labs. Cases have been dismissed due to the independent analysis being below the legal limit.
  • The urine samples have to be taken carefully in accordance with a set time frame. You may avoid a drink driving ban if the samples are too close together or a sample has not initially been discarded.

Some examples of cases dealt with by the firm.

R v ML Peterborough MC. The police used the first urine sample instead of disposing of this and waiting half an hour for the next sample to be provided. Case dismissed.

R v GC North Allerton MC. The police did not give the client sufficient time to give the two urine samples and waited 3 minutes before the expiry of the permitted 1 hour before asking for the first sample.

STEP THREE – LEGALITY OF ARREST AND POLICE CONDUCT

In some situations the Court has the power to disallow breath specimens as a result of the unlawful arrest or from the conduct of the arresting officers. Here are some examples

  • Excessive force or intimidation. A number of clients have had charges dismissed due to intimidation, and the inappropriate use of strip searches and taser guns.
  • Using handcuffs without justification contrary to ACPO guidelines
  • The police mislead you on the reasons for stopping your vehicle. This may amount bad faith or ‘mala fides’ for which the Court has the power to disallow all evidence against you.
  • Misleading statements by the police that there was permission to enter your property
  • Insulting or inappropriate behaviour can result in the case being dismissed. A case against one of our clients was dropped due to unwanted attention.
  • You are not taken to hospital immediately after a road traffic accident or the police delay your treatment to obtain a breath sample
  • The police are required by force policy to arrange hospital assessment where your airbags inflate.

STEP FOUR – NON DISCLOSURE



A high proportion of successful cases are where the police fail to comply with their disclosure duties.

If we are unable to prepare your case due to the prosecution failing to supply evidence you are entitled to an acquittal.

Here are some examples

R v RJ – North Tyneside MC. Client did not have an interpreter at the police station. Case dropped before trial due to the prosecution failing to comply with the duty to serve unused material.

R v MA – Camberwell Green MC. Client had not consumed sufficient alcohol to exceed prescribed limit. Case dropped before trial after the prosecution failed to serve the CCTV from the breath test room.



STEP FIVE – DISCONTINUANCE

In some cases we can persuade the CPS to drop charges before the case proceeds to the hearing. This saves you the expense and worry of having to attend Court.

Here are some example cases dealt with by the firm

R v ZA – Hendon MC. The matter was discontinued in advance of a disclosure hearing. The Defendant didn’t need to attend for her trial.

R v AK – Luton MC. Notice of discontinuance served. Issue of whether the police followed the correct procedure

R V HS Banbury MC. Client was alone in her vehicle at a car park after consuming alcohol and called the police due to not being able to drive home having been unable to contact her husband for a lift. The case was dropped after we persuaded the CPS the client had no intention to drive home.

STEP SIX – SPECIAL REASONS

Special reasons can avoid a driving ban where no legal defence is available. In some cases even a criminal record may be avoided and your legal fees reimbursed. Here are some examples

 Spiked/ laced drinks

If you drank more than what you thought you were drinking, or the drink was a different type to what you thought, or someone added drink to your glass without your knowledge, we can obtain a report from our scientists to work out if the additional alcohol took you over the legal limit. Where this is confirmed we may argue special reasons against a ban on your behalf.

Medication/ medical conditions and interfering substances

Some medical conditions and medications influence the rate by which alcohol is eliminated by the body. This can mean that your alcohol reading at the police station is not an accurate reflection of the amount of alcohol consumed.

Likewise inhaling fumes or coming into contact with certain substances such as liquids, sprays or inhalers can result in an unreliable reading on the breath test device.

Also acid reflux resulting in regurgitated mouth alcohol can affect breath test machines by artificially inflating the breath level. We can obtain a scientist report to confirm if this applies in your case.

 

Contact us now on 0800 044 3730 to make a start.

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