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Can I Refuse a Breath Test?

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You cannot refuse a breath test unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for doing so. If you refuse a breath test without good cause, you could be arrested and charged with failing to provide a specimen.

When can the police demand a breath test?

If you are stopped by the police and asked to do a breath test, you might wonder whether you have to comply. So, what are your rights?

The first thing to know is that the police can randomly stop any vehicle on the road. After this, the police can request a roadside breath test if -

  • You were committing a motor offence
  • You were involved in an accident
  • They have reason to believe you were driving/in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Therefore, if you were not committing an offence or involved in an accident, the police must have reasonable cause to believe you are intoxicated.

Do I have to do a roadside breath test?

You cannot refuse a breath test. The only time you can refuse is if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’.

There is no set definition of a reasonable excuse. One example is that you have a medical condition that affects your ability to perform a breath test, such as asthma or lung cancer. If there is a good reason why you cannot do a breath test, you must tell the police.

What happens if I refuse?

If you refuse a roadside breath test, you will be taken to the police station. There, the police will again ask for a specimen. If you are unable to complete a breath test, the police may ask for a urine or blood sample instead.

If you continue to refuse, you will be arrested and charged with failing to provide a specimen. Your case will then be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. After this, your case will likely end up in court.

If found guilty of failing to provide a specimen, you could face a 12 month driving ban and a fine of up to £5,000. If you have been convicted of drink driving within the past 10 years, you could be handed a three year driving disqualification.

The penalties for failing to refuse a specimen are steep. So, while you may feel annoyed at having to perform a breath test when you are genuinely innocent, the consequences of not doing so are potentially ruinous.

Contact us now

If you have been charged with failing to provide a specimen, please contact us today. We can explore all possible lines of defence open to you. It may be that you had a reasonable excuse for refusing a breath test and this needs to be explained to the court. Or perhaps the police did not follow the correct protocol. We can examine your options and represent you in court.

For a free initial enquiry, contact us now and speak to one of our experienced drink driving solicitors.