Nearly every day, I appear in magistrates courts across the North dealing with motoring cases. Many people are caught speeding or drink driving on the A1, and so I find myself representing people from all over the country and lorry drivers from all over Europe. I see many people trying to represent themselves because they think that Motoring Law is easy. I also see the consequences for people who make a hash of it. Losing their driving licences, often their jobs, and sometimes this will lead to the loss of their home.
There are a huge number of people who rely upon their licence to be able to do their job. That includes most people living in rural Northumberland and Durham. I have helped midwives, paramedics, bus drivers, business owners who are at the heart of their business and the business would literally fold if they couldn’t drive. They often don’t have the money to pay for a driver.
I really like Motoring Law as, at heart, I like the challenge of any area of law that is actually quite technical. Some court ushers started to refer to me as the Motoring Expert of The North. I laughed at first but then I realised that I am an expert at this. However, unlike Mr Loophole further down the country, I don’t charge thousands of pounds. And...
...there are no loopholes! There is just the law.
It takes time to learn the law and an appreciation of how magistrates and judges are likely to apply it to my clients’ cases. So without further ado, here is a case involving some technical facts.
You will have heard of Dean Saunders. He was stopped by the Police and asked to provide a roadside breath test. He failed. He was taken to a Police Station to provide an evidential breath test. He “refused” by insisting that he wished to see his Solicitor. He was charged with failing to provide a sample of breath for analysis and was convicted.
What seemed to shock everyone was that he was given a jail sentence. He was released the next day on bail having appealed. Everyone who is arrested and detained in a Police Station is entitled to legal advice; HOWEVER, waiting for legal advice is not a reason to delay the evidential breath test process. The law is very clear.
Indeed a few days after he appealed the PolicePolice released the video of his conduct in the Police Station. He was told over and over again that waiting for a Solicitor was not a good reason to delay the breath test process.
Only if your Solicitor or a duty Solicitor is in the Police custody suite at the time the breath test is being sought could you hope to succeed in an argument that your right to legal advice had been denied so that the result of the evidential breath test should be excluded.
The Police should have the power to use the initial roadside breath test as the evidential breath test. Currently, this is not possible. Suspects could then avoid arrest and lengthy detention in a Police Station (unless of course they don’t provide the sample or otherwise delay or interfere in the process).
People need to know that the immediate consequence of driving with excess alcohol or in failing to provide a sample is a disqualification. This really cannot be avoided. Despite what you might read on the web, there are very few “technical” defences, although it is imperative that the Police follow and record the correct procedure.
One other last related point. It used to be the case that if the breath sample was below 50mg, then you were offered the option of a blood or urine sample. That no longer exists. If your sample is 40 or over, you will be taken to Court. If it is 39 or less (the limit being 35), you may still be prosecuted, but it is most unlikely.
The simple answer is: don’t drink and drive; however if you are charged with such an offence, you should take legal advice and allow a Solicitor to review the case papers. You just never know, we might be able to help you.If you need help or advice on the issue of drink driving or any other motoring related matter, then please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0191 284 6989.
Motoring Law Solicitors Newcastle: 0191 284 6989
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