Drink driving cases from start to finish

drink driving cases

Police will think of a reason to pull you over, so just comply.

Many of the clients who come to us have never been in trouble with the police before. The first thing that will happen concerning drink driving cases is that a police car will normally pull you over. There’s a common misconception that the police can’t stop you unless they have a very good reason. Police officers stop cars randomly, pretty much all the time. They will always have a reason. They’ll always come up with some excuse, so it’s no good relying on Police not having a just reason to pull you over.

We’ve heard of plenty of strange examples or excuses police have used to pull people over, and a Sheriff holds up these reasons as being reasonable. As such, If police officers want to stop you, they will. Our advice is to cooperate fully. The first thing that will happen is that they use a handheld Intoximeter that you’ve probably seen on TV shows.

Drink driving cases – Roadside breath test

They’ll ask you to blow into that. See whether it gives us a positive reading or not. It can be quite a difficult procedure; it’s not just a short breath that’s required. You have to provide a long and consistent breath into that machine. If you have any difficulties like asthma or any other medical difficulties, it would be wise for you to say to the police officers right at that stage what your difficulty is. Not complying means you can be charged with failure to provide a breath sample.

Certainly try to give a test to the best of your ability, bear in mind that the handheld device is not going to be used in evidence against you. This is just a preliminary measure that the police are doing to see if their suspicions are upheld, and you should be taken to a police station for a further procedure.

If that machine reveals a positive test, you’re going to be taken to the nearest police station that has a more sophisticated measuring instrument. When you go there, you’ll see the duty officer and the duty officer will explain that a procedure is going to be followed, and you’ll be taken into a room where you’ll give this breath sample into the machine.

Drink driving cases – At the police station

The whole procedure will be read over to you normally unless the police officers are particularly experienced. They’ll explain to you what the procedure is for breathing into that machine. Now again, unless you have a very good reason, you shouldn’t fail to provide a breath test.

Don’t think for a minute that a good reason is that you haven’t had the chance to talk to a lawyer, and you don’t know what your rights are. Many people that are under the misguided belief that if they haven’t had a chance to speak to a lawyer or they haven’t had their phone call, as they put it, then they’re not going to go along with any police procedure, which might cause them some difficulty or that they feel is in some way, fundamentally unfair.

The answer at this stage is to do your best to provide the breath test. Otherwise, you will be charged with a separate offence, and that’s an offence of failing to provide the breath test that’s been required. Equally, you’d be looking at a disqualification there. So make your legal arguments later. Contact your lawyer later if necessary, but at the moment, cooperate fully with the police procedures.

Taking the breath test at the police station

You’re being asked to provide a breath test, and to this machine sitting on the table, once that’s done, it will print off something that looks like a till receipt. And on that till receipt, there’ll be a few different readings. The first reading will show that the machine has calibrated, and it means that it’s working that day and is working at the appropriate levels for the analysis.

The next reading will be your first breath test. Then there’s another reading, which is the second analysis of your breath. The following reading and last reading is the final calibration of the machine. If there’s much variance in your own readings. Or if there is much variance in the calibration readings, then you’ve got a real cause for concern, and you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Hold on to the receipt or the document that has been provided to you by the police. They’ll have asked you to sign the bottom of it, and the police officers will have signed that receipt too.  

Keep it. It’s an important piece of evidence, and you should provide it to your lawyer as soon as you go and see a solicitor. The next procedure is that if you have provided a positive test, then clearly, the police officers aren’t going to just set you back into your car, hand you your car keys and send you home. You can rarely rely on a faulty machine in drink driving cases, but it has happened before.

After the breath test

What they’ll do is place you in a police cell, which is a pretty awful experience for all concerned. At some point, they will allow you to contact someone. Many people at this stage do take the opportunity to have a lawyer informed, but equally, it might just be a question of letting your wife or your husband know where you are and that you’re going to be in custody for a few hours. Normally you’re detained until the next day until the alcohol has gone through your system. You will sometimes have another breath test before being released. 

You’re given a pink form by the police officers, which’s called a bail undertaking form. The pink form is a one-page sheet detailing what court you have to attend when you have to attend it and your bail’s terms. You’re basically being given police bail. Now that means that if you fail to attend court on the date given, you’re committing another crime. This is an important document. It provides you with the detail that you require. You should take that to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Find a good lawyer for court.

So the next step will be preparing yourself for your court appearance. You should use this time to find an experienced road traffic law firm such as ourselves as quickly as possible. There’s a possibility that there may have been some difficulties when you gave the breath analysis. Your lawyer needs to try to secure evidence at the earliest possible opportunity. This can mean a letter to the police asking them to ensure that a log is available or part of the instrument is available to be checked.

You are generally met outside the court a few minutes before your first court appearance, starting with a police officer who will hand you a charge sheet or copy complaint that sets out exactly what it is you’re charged with and what you’re going to be asked to answer. When you go into the court’s dock, there aren’t many opportunities at this stage to see a lawyer, but there will be a duty lawyer present.

They are really there for unrepresented people and usually for people who require legal aid; it’s fair to say that it would be very wise if you were to obtain a lawyer before going to court. This is because a duty lawyer will see over 100 cases each day and won’t have the time to focus on your case. So the best advice is to see a lawyer before you attend court; when your case does call in court, you’ll go forward into the dock and be asked to plead either guilty or not guilty.

Drink driving cases – What happens at court?

You are asked to confirm your name and your address. Usually, your lawyer will stand up at this stage and say guilty or not guilty. If they say guilty, you can expect to be disqualified. If you haven’t been convicted of a drunk driving offence within 10 years, then the minimum disqualification will be 12 months.

There are ways to reduce that. The main way to reduce that period is through your ability to attend something called the drink-drive rehabilitation scheme. Now, this is a scheme that really is at the discretion of Sheriffs.  Whether they allow you to be placed onto the scheme, and usually, your lawyer would request that you be allowed that opportunity and explain to the court that you understand what the drink-drive rehabilitation scheme is and that you are willing to pay it.

When you come to court, assuming you plead not guilty. The next step and procedure is that you will require to attend court on at least two occasions. The diet is a formal court appearance. All that happens is the court wants to assess whether your case is prepared and ready for trial or whether you require to adjourn the case or the crown are required to adjourn the case for any reason.

The intermediate diet

The intermediate diet itself is relatively straightforward and quick. The difficulty with it is that it can take several hours for you to be processed through the whole court regime in busy courts. 

The main event – your trial

The main event is going to be the trial at the trial diet. If your defence is entirely a technical defence, it’s unlikely that you are required to give evidence. If, on the other hand, there is something about the credibility of the officers. Seeing that there was something in the procedure that you don’t accept happened, then you may require to give evidence yourself. The trial date is normally a few weeks after the intermediate diet, and it would be wise for you to visit your lawyer shortly after the intermediate diet to discuss all aspects of your case.  Ensure that your case is fully prepared and that your counsel completely understands exactly what your position is in the case.

Call our road traffic lawyers.

Don’t wait until the day before your trial or a couple of days before your trial; make sure you’ve done it a few weeks before the trial and certainly around the time of the intermediate diet. You should be discussing with your lawyer the ins and outs of your defence and exactly what will happen.

Procedurally when you attend the court, the bottom line of all of the advice concerning drink driving procedure is to see a lawyer early. So call us as we handle drink driving cases daily. You will receive expert care and defence from a specialist.