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Police Drink Drive Procedure

Most people who are charged with drink related driving offences are charged with driving or attempting to drive after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his or her breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit under section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. It is always important to remember that if you have found yourself in a custody suite, you should try and recall and record as much detail of what has been done and said as possible so you can be give the best police station advice. If the custody staff and Breathalyzer operator have not completed the procedure correctly it may lead to the court not proceeding with the conviction.

Most straightforward excess alcohol convictions follow the arrested person providing a sample of breath on a government approved device. The breathalysers in police stations are usually either the Lion Intoxilyzer 6000 or the Intoximeter ECIR. Once the sample has been provided, if it is above the legal limit of 35 microgrammes the Crown have the right to seek a conviction under section 5 RTA 1988 but if the reading is under 40 the Crown Prosecution Service will usually not proceed with the charge. This is why having good police station advice may make the difference in your case.

Will the police ask me for blood or urine samples?

In certain circumstances such as lack of a suitable breathalyser machine or medical reasons, the officer can skip the use of the Intoxilyzer machine and go straight to the option of blood or urine.

If the officer decides to take blood he will then call a doctor or health care professional to take the specimen. Your consent must always be sought and given before a specimen can be taken. This specimen should be split into two and you must be offered your own sample so you can have it examined by your own toxicologist. The other sample should be sealed and then sent to the police toxicologist.

Typically you will be bailed to re-attend at a date when the sample has been examined. The legal limit in blood is 80mgs. Two samples taken at the same time are often not exactly the same. Moreover when the samples are examined, to account for a margin of error a further 6mgs is deducted from the reading. If this remains at over 80mgs the police will proceed with a charge. The CrownProsecution Service will usually proceed with a charge even if it is only 81mgs.

If the officer decides to take a urine specimen then you should be taken by a same gender officer to a room to provide a sample of urine. The officer should use an approved testing kit and the first sample provided should be discarded. You will be asked to provide a second sample which is the sample that will be used for analysis. As with blood, this sample should be split in two and you must be offered your own sample to be examined by your own expert. The other sample should be sealed and then sent to the police laboratories. Typically you will be bailed to re-attend at a date when the sample has been examined. The legal limit in urine is 107mgs.

 

What if the procedure is carried out at the hospital?

The procedure that the police have to follow at the hospital is very different from that at the police station and is quite complex. There is, of course, no Intoxilyzer machine at the hospital and therefore the procedure involves roadside breath kits, blood and urine. Issues of lucidity and consciousness are important, especially in fail to provide cases. Two doctors are involved in the process and consent from the doctor whose care you are under is an essential element. Due to the complexity an expert review of the MG/DD/C (the pro forma completed by the police) would be the best starting point in a case such as this to assess if the procedure has been completed adequately.

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