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Drink Driving and Refusing to Give a Specimen

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 21 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
Breath Test Specimen Blood Urine Police

Refusing to give a specimen after being stopped by the police can be an offence. This matter may proceed to the criminal courts unless the person who has refused can give a good reason for doing so.

Powers of the Police to Stop Drivers

The police can stop a person in charge of a motor vehicle in a public place or on the road. The police can randomly stop drivers but they can only insist on breath tests under certain circumstances. The police can request a breath test at the scene if they suspect the driver has consumed alcohol or committed a traffic offence. It may also be the case that the driver has been stopped as witnesses have described their vehicle as being involved in a Traffic Incident or Accident.

The Police and Requesting a Breath Test

After a driver has been stopped, and if the police have reasonable suspicion, the driver may be required to take a breath test. If a driver refuses to undertake a Breath Test at the Roadside they can be arrested and then taken to a police station. If they do give a breath test and the result is positive then they will also be arrested and taken to the police station. The police must issue a warning before the breath test that failing to provide a sample can lead to prosecution and is a criminal offence.

Taking a Blood and Urine Specimen

A blood or urine specimen can only be requested at the police station and it is a legal requirement to provide these samples. The police are required to inform drivers why breath specimens cannot be used or taken and that failure to provide these specimens is an offence. The police should also ask the suspect if there is any reason why these specimens cannot be taken, such as medical conditions. The reasons why a breath test would not be applicable are set out in the Road Traffic Act 1988 section 7. Blood and urine may be requested under these circumstances:

  • The breath test device is not available or is not working correctly
  • The police suspect that drugs were involved in the offence and they have taken medical advice on the matter
  • Breath tests could not be taken due to the driver’s medical health

Failing to Provide a Specimen

A driver may be liable for an offence if they refuse to give breath, blood or urine samples. Reasonable excuses for not providing samples will be taken into consideration. The police or courts will not take into account that the driver was too drunk to provide a specimen; this is not a reasonable excuse. Even if the driver was not drinking and still refused to give a specimen this is an offence. The driver can be charged with Failure to Provide a Breath Specimen; this charge can apply even if the suspect was not driving.

Sentencing for Failure to Provide Specimens

There can be different Punishments and Fines applied depending on whether the specimen refusal was breath or blood and urine. The actual guidelines for sentencing are similar to those for the charge of Driving With Excess Alcohol. Failing to provide a breath test can lead to a fine of up £1000, and 4 licence penalty points can be imposed. The refusal to give blood or urine can lead to a fine of up to £2,500 and/or three months imprisonment and 10 penalty point imposed. The option to disqualify from driving is also open to the courts for both of these offences.

Special Reasons for Refusing to Give Specimens

There are a number of defences open to solicitors including special reasons why the suspect refused to give specimens. Special reasons may be given in the hope of avoiding a driving disqualification. Reasons could include that the driver’s drinks were spiked or laced. It may also be the case that the driver was taking certain medication that reacted badly with alcohol and caused disorientation. This special reason may work if there was no warning label on the medication to indicate that this could occur when mixed with alcohol.

Refusing to give specimens has been upgraded to a more serious offence and there is a wide range of sentencing options now open to judges. Driving bans for these offences can be applied for up to two years. Anyone who has been charged with either of these offences should seek legal advice from a solicitor.

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Police knocked on home door neighbour alleged drink driving. At home having a few glases of wine watching TV. Arrested taken to station in a riot van detained 13 hours requested a breath test and to sign a form I was driving on public roadI refused as I was at home not in charge of a vehicle. Not offered legal advice. Charged with not providinga breath test
Blue - 21-Nov-17 @ 9:14 AM
Pulled over, and was breathalysed. They said I was drink driving, I wasn't drunk. They said I didn't blow into the breathalyser properly. I did it 5 times. I was locked up for the night. Didn't give them any trouble and did as I was told. 35 years old first offence.... what would my sentence likely to be please?
Hazza - 21-Mar-16 @ 1:15 PM
Was banned 5yr ago .have to do extended test .ifthe paper lisence has been scrapped how would the driving school know that I'm just a new learner?
crazygirl - 9-Oct-15 @ 10:51 PM
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