Since 2012, we have secured acquittals in over 200 of our clients’ cases. That means no fine, no criminal record and no disqualification. Your case could be next.
There are many issues that arise in drink driving cases that may result in a case being dismissed. Below are just some examples.
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- The wrong charge! – Highbury Corner Magistrates’ CourtOur client provided a specimen of breath of 43ug/100ml. He was therefore given the option of providing a sample of blood or urine which he declined citing a fear of needles. The police charged him with failure to provide a specimen of blood instead of charging him with drink driving based on the earlier breath sample. The option to provide blood or urine was an option not a requirement and our client could not be guilty of failure to provide it. By the time the trial took place, it was too late for a further charge to be introduced. As the charge of failure to provide a sample is different in character to actually driving the vehicle, the prosecution were unsuccessful in its application to amend it. The case against our client was dismissed.
- Urine sample provided too long after requirement for it had been made – Cambridge Magistrates’ CourtOur client was unable to provide a breath specimen due to being asthmatic. She therefore was required to provide a blood sample which the police doctor was unable to take due to being unable to find a vein in her arm. As a result she was required to provide a urine specimen. The requirement was to provide two samples within the space of one hour, the first of which must be discarded and the second used for analysis. The second sample was provided outside the one hour time frame but was subsequently but its analysis formed the basis of the prosecution case. Numerous forensic reports were served relating to the reliability of the analysis and it was pointed out its provision was contrary to the correct procedure. The prosecution discontinued the case against our client before trial
- Prosecution unable to prove consent to blood test – Trafford Magistrates’ Court
Our client was required to provide a blood sample whilst at a hospital and was subsequently charged with drink driving based on the analysis of the sample.She pleaded not guilty. Issue was taken with whether the procedure was followed correctly at the hospital and whether valid consent to the taking of the blood specimen had been given. At the trial, the doctor who took the sample failed to attend Court. As he was the only person capable of stating whether valid consent had been given to the taking of the sample there was no prospect of the prosecution being in a position to prove its case. An application to adjourn the case was made by the prosecution. This was refused and consequently the case was dismissed.
- No evidence of machine calibration – Birmingham Magistrates’ Court
Our client had provided a breath reading of 48ug/100ml of breathHe was offered the option of having this replaced by a sample of blood or urine but declined, therefore the prosecution sought to rely on the breath sample. He pleaded not guilty as he considered he had been talked out of providing blood or urine by the police.
At the trial, the police officer did not produce the printout showing the breath test results but simply referred to the result of 48ug/100ml. Therefore evidence of the proper calibration of the machine had not been introduced. A submission of no case to answer was made by us and the prosecutor sought to reopen the case against our client. The District Judge refused to reopen the case and it was dismissed due to lack of evidence that the machine had calibrated itself before the breath samples were provided.
- “The Scattergun procedure” – Torquay Magistrates’ Court
In cases where the lower specimen of breath is between 40ug and 50ug/100ml the police must offer a replacement specimen of blood or urine.
Note the words “Statutory Option” rather than requirement to provide blood or urine samples. This means that the officer was required to give our client the option of providing a sample which, if he accepted, would replace the earlier breath reading.
Unfortunately for the officer in this case, he has required our client to provide a specimen of urine rather than giving him the option of doing so. Closer inspection of the form revealed that boxes were ticked to cover requirements to provide blood and urine as well as the option to do so. The officer sought to cover his tracks at the trial stating that he had given the option as well as making the requirement. The Magistrates held that they could not be sure that the procedure had been followed correctly and dismissed the case.
Sometimes a case will look watertight on paper but, by questioning the evidence, outstanding results can be achieved (see below).
- Failing to wait long enough before taking sample of urine – Basildon Magistrates’ Court
Our client was required to provide a sample of urine at the police station. In order to ensure that a reliable specimen is taken, the procedure involving the provision of urine samples requires that the suspect must provide two samples, the first of which should be thrown away and the second sealed and sent away for laboratory analysis.The form relating to the provision of the two samples stated as follows:-
The evidence suggested that our client had provided two separate specimens of urine in the space of two minutes. However, our client informed us that half way through urinating he was told to stop by the officer who then threw away part of the sample before then asking him to continue urinating in the same cup.
In practice therefore, our client had only provided one specimen rather than two due to the fact that the police officer had told him to stop halfway through.
The law requires the analysis of a second separate specimen of urine. Representations were made by us to the prosecution on our client’s behalf.
The case against our client was withdrawn.
- Failure to give the accused a warning of consequences if sample not provided – Cambridge Magistrates’ Court
Our client was admitted to hospital following an accident involving his vehicle. Evidential breath readings cannot be provided anywhere other than at a police station, therefore the police required a specimen of blood or urine.At the hospital he was required to provide a specimen of blood or urine. Before doing so he must ask the doctor in charge of the patient’s care whether he/she objects to the specimens being required.
After obtaining the consent of the doctor, the police officer then required our client to provide a sample of blood stating as follows:-
So far so good. However, through no fault of our client’s the police doctor who attended the hospital was unable to find a vein from which to take a blood sample. As a result the police officer decided to require urine instead. When doing so, he stated:-
C28 of the form used by most police forces up and down the country to require a urine specimen at the hospital contains no warning of the consequences for failure to provide it. So, even though a sample of urine was provided and the analysis was reported to be over the limit, it was held by the court to be inadmissible.
The result was that our very relieved client was acquitted of the charge.
- Not properly informing the accused of the reason a particular type of sample was required – Bolton Magistrates’ Court
In a trial heard at Bolton Magistrates Court last year, our client provided two breath test results of 64 and 77ug/100ml of breath (see below).
Due to the fact that the difference between the readings was too great, they could not be relied upon as evidence and the police were required to obtain a specimen of blood or urine instead.
The police officer conducting the procedure was aware of this and began the procedure for taking a blood or urine sample as an alternative. When doing so he was legally required to inform our client why a specimen of blood was being required.
To the untrained eye, it may seem that the police officer has conducted the procedure entirely correctly.
In fact the police officer made a genuine but fatal mistake which rendered the results of the bloodtest inadmissible. He has informed our client that a reliable breath testing device was not available for use and that was the reason why a blood or urine sample was being requested. This was in fact completely untrue. A reliable breath testing device was available for use and had in fact been used. The devices used did not produce a reliable reading and the police officer should have circled and read part B3(d) of the form and not part B3(a) – a subtle distinction but still an important one.
Our client pleaded not guilty and the prosecution insisted on continuing with the case right the way through to the trial. At the trial, the police officer accepted that he had circled the wrong part of the form and had informed our client of the wrong reason why blood or urine was being required. The Court dismissed the case against our client which meant no conviction for drink driving and no disqualification.