Using CCTV to win your drink or drug driving case.
M.A.J. Law today received notice from the CPS that our client’s case had been dropped.
Our client, Mr G, was pulled over by the police whilst driving his vehicle. A member of the public had reported him for “driving erratically”. At the police station Mr G provided two breath readings, both over the legal alcohol limit. He also provided a sample of blood for drugs (the police found a small amount of cannabis in his vehicle and assumed he was over the drug driving limit). Mr G was facing a prison sentence and lengthy disqualification.
At the first court hearing the CPS failed to serve any evidence whatsoever. The CPS solicitor – who had 10 cases to deal with that day – expressed some surprise that Mr G was pleading not guilty. “He was well over the limit” the prosecutor announced in court, “of course he’s guilty”. This is often the response from the CPS, who expect people to plead guilty without checking the evidence against them. This mindset is common amongst overworked CPS solicitors working to extremely tight budgets.
The Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association recently stated;
“We have noted remarks from judges such as ‘your client must know if he/she committed this offence’ which often is not only inaccurate but also ignores that the burden of proof falls on the CPS”.
Mr G entered a not guilty plea and the case was adjourned for trial in four months time. The CPS were given 28 days to serve evidence.
Please remember that your case may not go to trial even if you plead not guilty. Many cases that we handle are dropped by the prosecution before returning to court. The CPS have an overriding Code for Crown Prosectors. This code states that the CPS cannot continue with a case if there is ‘no realistic prospect of conviction’.
Four weeks prior to the trial, M.A.J. Law received a disk containing CCTV footage. This was sent by the CPS. After reviewing the CCTV, it was clear that the police had made a huge mistake.
The CCTV of the testing procedure – drink and drugs
The CCTV begins with our client being led into the breath test room by two officers (Officer A and Officer B). Officer A asks Mr G to take a seat whilst he “sets up the machine”. Officer B then begins to ask a set of questions from the 25 page procedure booklet (known as the MGDDA document) – you should recall this document begin completed by the officer during the procedure. If you do not, it is important that you contact us immediately.
Moments later, Officer B is interrupted by Officer A, who states that the machine is now ready to take the samples and will ‘time out’ in three minutes if Mr G does not blow. He is immediately placed onto the machine and provides two specimens of breath.
After the samples are collected, the evidential device gives three printouts displaying important calibration data. One of the printouts is handed to our client.
Below are the readings provided;
If you have read our drink driving page, you will understand the importance of the MGDDA document and the information contained within it.
A similar booklet, known as the MGDDB document, should be completed in drug driving cases. You can read more about that here.
The law is clear – if the information within the booklet is not given correctly, before you provide a sample, the court cannot convict you of the offence, even if your breath or blood reading is high (as it was in this case).
We immediately called the CPS Head Office and invited them to consider the CCTV. The case was discontinued less than 10 minutes later.
What’s concerning about this case is the comment made by the CPS solicitor on the first court date – “he was well over the limit, of course he’s guilty”. This case highlights the importance of checking all the evidence in a criminal case. Had Mr G pleaded guilty on the first court date, we would not have realised the error.
Any drink or drug driving related offence is dealt with seriously by the courts. Punishments depend on your alcohol or drug levels but range from a minimum 12 month driving ban and fine to prison. It is vital that you do as much as possible to avoid a conviction. You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain, by obtaining and thoroughly checking the evidence.
Our team of specialists will be pleased to discuss your case with you over the telephone completely free of charge. Our office number is 01514228020.