When someone is charged with drink driving they will be bailed to attend court. This means that they must attend court in order to enter a plea (‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’). It is important that the motorist is provided with ‘advance disclosure’ of the evidence against them. The advance disclosure should contain, as a minimum, a case summary, the MGDDA/B/C forms completed by the police and the breathalyser printout.
Believe it or not, at least one CPS area is now providing a case summary without the MGDDA/B/C form at the first hearing. In other words, motorists are expected to enter a plea without even seeing the evidence against them! The CPS expects almost all motorists just to plead guilty so, to save on costs, doesn’t bother to obtain the evidence from the police or provide it to the motorist. Nice.
I was at court representing a client charged with drink driving. It was a first hearing so I expected to obtain the advance disclosure when we got to court. After being handed what was described to me as the advance disclosure, I asked the CPS solicitor if she was now going to drop the case against my client. Looking rather perplexed she asked why.
“No MGDDA form. No breathalyser printout. No evidence,” I responded. She explained that most motorists don’t know what to look for and just plead guilty so there is no point wasting time and money in obtaining and checking the evidence!
Rather than just drop the case against my client she made a few frantic phone calls to get the ‘evidence’ faxed to the court for me to check. Interestingly, when the MGDDA form was faxed to the court it had a missing page. In addition, the breathalyser printout was not signed. When the judge enquired as to the content of the missing page the CPS solicitor had to explain that it was the page where the police officer signs to state all is correct!
The CPS was ordered to hand over a full copy of the MGDDA form “forthwith”. The CPS indicted in court that it would be actioned that afternoon. Two weeks later and I’m still waiting. It looks like the case will not be proceeding.
Update: since writing this part the CPS has dropped this case. We have been awarded costs.