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The Police and Drink Driving

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Drink driving UK Solicitors

The police can stop any vehicle at any time and ask to see, or have you produce, your documents. However, that does not automatically mean that having stopped you that you have to give a breath test. There are very strict guidelines that the police must follow in order to obtain a breath test. It is sensible that you understand your rights, perhaps not to the level of a drink driving solicitor, and also understand the basics of UK drink driving laws. If you understand your rights, then you will be better placed to deal with any drink driving charges that you may face.



Knowing your rights is great, but knowing your limits is probably a better place to start. Alcohol intake is based on units, and most drinks display their unit strength. The breath test limit in the UK is 80mg per 100ml of breath (in Scotland it is 50mg). Once consumed, each unit takes about one hour to enter the blood and a further hour to leave the body, so if you have had 5 units, you will have alcohol in your body for the next 6 hours or so. This, however, varies person to person based on size, gender and other factors. It is important to remember this though not only on the night you drink, but also the morning after, when you drive to work, possibly still over the limit.


Police Stop

Having been stopped the police can only ask you to produce a breath sample if they know you have consumed alcohol, suspect you have consumed it, that you have been involved in a road traffic accident, or you have committed a driving offence.

Having satisfied this criteria, unless you have a reasonable excuse, usually medical, then failure to give a sample upon request can result in you being arrested. Failure to give a sample is an offence in itself, carrying a possible ban, fine and imprisonment. If you are at any stage uncertain about the procedure under UK drink driving laws, or when faced with a possible drink driving charge, then you should properly consider getting a drink driving solicitor to assist you at the police station.



If you pass the test, you will probably be allowed to go. If you fail, or if you refuse to give a roadside breath sample, you will be arrested at the roadside and taken to a police station. Note, you will not be able to drive your car there yourself.

At the station you are retested, given two readings from a more accurate machine, and the lower of these two readings will be used in evidence against you if you are charged.

If the police suspect drugs, they may undertake a different test or a field impairment test at the roadside (such as walking in a straight line). On occasion, there may be a requirement for a blood or urine sample to be produced. These must take place at the police station and the blood sample can only be taken by a qualified medical practitioner, whereas urine can be taken by anybody.

It should be remembered that the police can stop you for any reason, but they cannot test you simply because you have been stopped. Having had an accident, they can test each driver, even the one not at fault. If however you have simply been stopped, there is no automatic right to test you. If they reasonably suspect that you have had a drink, from the smell of alcohol, for example, they can require a test and a failure to give one can be an offence in itself.

The penalties under UK drink driving law are severe, with a 12-month none discretionary ban for drink driving. Knowing police procedure and the rules will not help you pass a breath test, but will help you deal with any situation should it arise.

Retaining a drink driving solicitor is the next best option when faced with any charges relating from a stop or breath test. For a free enquiry, contact DFR Solicitors today.