There have been various newspaper articles detailing how and to what extent the police were particularly active over the Christmas period in relation to stopping motorists and breathalysing. Of course, it is clear that one should not drink and drive. Indeed, drink driving is such an avoidable offence (just don’t drink at all if you are driving) that many would say that there is simply no excuse for it! However, it is rarely that simple. OK, so you get stopped at a Christmas checkpoint pursuant to the usual festive campaign and you are over the limit. Its a ‘fair cop’ isn’t it? Well, not quite. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty and the reality is that the conviction is only as good as the methodology and technology adopted by the officer who has arrested you. And if they get this wrong in certain regards, well, the conviction cannot stand. Getting off on a technicality? Or a loophole? Not at all. What we are really talking about here is procedures that are in place to protect against unlawful convictions. Techonology can go wrong. Indeed, it can be misused or at least deployed incompetently.
What about another scenario. You did go to the pub after work. And you did indeed have a drink. But only one and you are convinced that you were under the limit. You had drunk nothing all day and consumed one pint of normal lager in the pub with a meal before driving home. The pub is 35 yards from home. Upon arriving at home you park your car up and go inside. It has been a stressful day and you get a glass of wine, a large one. And you down it whereupon there is a knock at the door. It is the local constabulary and thinking nothing more of it you let them in. So far so good. You have done nothing wrong. They want to breathalyse you and lo and behold you are over the limit. They arrest you and take you to the police station and take a further reading. Still over the limit but a breath reading of less than 50. You are then charged and bailed to attend on a first appearance at your local Magistrates’ Court. Game over?
Not at all. Within this process you have no less than 2 possible defences and in any event a ‘special reasons’ argument as to why you should not be banned from driving. One of those defences is far from being a technicality but basic common sense – you consumed alcohol after having driven. You were under the limit when you drove but over the limit when you were subsequently breathalysed, all for having exercised one of the basic human rights, namely a drink within the confines of the privacy of your own home. This is not a loophole. Nor is it wrong to rely upon it. You are deemed by law to have committed one of the most serious driving offences unless or until you can produce and prove a back-calculation to the effect that you were not over the limit at the time of driving.
And if all else fails? You didn’t drive very far so your lawyer can argue that due to the shortness of distance driven, you should not, for ‘special reasons’ be disqualified.
It is always worth getting advice very early on in such cases so that your plan of action – your defence if you will – can be properly assessed and thereafter strategised.