Due to the number of ways we can challenge a drink driving breath test case, it’s impossible to discuss all drink driving defences in depth on a single page. We have therefore summarised the main points below.
We would strongly advise that you contact our team of specialist solicitors who will be able to outline your options and discuss a defence strategy suitable for your circumstances. We are confident that following a phone call to our team, you’ll have complete peace of mind.
Finding fault with the police procedure
Your breath alcohol concentration will reduce as you eliminate and ‘burn off’ the alcohol that you have consumed, the speed at which you do so is known as your ‘elimination rate’.
In fact, alcohol can be eliminated at such a rate that there’s a risk that you will fall below the prescribed limit by the time you are placed on the evidential breath test machine (EBM) at the police station, even if your roadside reading was high.
The difficulty the police face is that the roadside reading is non-evidential, meaning it can’t be used as evidence in court. If you fail at the roadside, the police will want to get you to the station as quickly as possible, in order to get the highest breath reading from you on the evidential device.
This can often lead to police officers shortcutting or skipping the important procedures that should be completed before you’re placed onto the EBM. If you felt like you were being rushed through the process, you may not recall the MGDDA procedure for example.
Police forces now have available to them a standard ‘dummies guide’ pro forma (approved by the Association of Chief Police Officers) to try to prevent the police breaching procedure and obtaining unreliable and unlawful specimens of breath – or at least, that was the idea. In theory, it’s idiot proof. In reality, it’s an inconvenience.
This document, the MGDDA, contains in excess of 20 questions and a number of legal requirements. This procedure should be completed in your presence by the officer before he places you onto the evidential breath test machine. Don’t worry if you can’t recall it; there’s a chance it wasn’t completed.
N.B. Don’t mistake the MGDDA procedure with the ‘checking-in’ procedure completed at the custody desk.
As above, it doesn’t take an expert to know that the level of alcohol in your body will reduce as time passes. Of course, if the officer were to spend 30 minutes asking you the relevant questions, noting your responses, ticking the correct boxes and reading the legal warning, there’s a very good chance that the level of alcohol now remaining in your body would be substantially lower than at the roadside, you may even be below the prescribed limit. An outcome any officer will want to avoid.
M.A.J. Law find fault with drink driving breath procedure in over 85% of cases, usually leading to a complete acquittal.
We’re all aware of the struggle faced by front-line services as a result of increased budget cuts. As a cost-cutting measure, a number of police forces now employ civilian staff members to carry out day-to-day work within the police station (e.g. preparing meals for detainees).
In an attempt to get ‘more for its money’, the police force broadened the responsibilities of civilian officers. As a result, you will often find them completing the breath test procedure, rather than using the ‘bobby on the beat’ (whose time is more expensive).
The difficulty here, however, is that a civilian member of staff is not a constable and, by law, cannot give the important legal requirements detailed in the MGDDA document. In short, if the civilian gave you the warning, you cannot be convicted.
Indeed, you may recall that the procedure was, in fact, conducted by one of the officers who had arrested you or even the custody sergeant. If this is the case, is does not mean the the procedure was correct. Often the lack of formal training, coupled with the pressures placed on individual officers, results in them not understanding, or appreciating, the importance of the MGDDA procedure.
M.A.J. Law has expert knowledge of the second generation of Evidential Breath Testing Devices currently in use in the UK. This means that we can often advise you on the merits of challenging the accuracy of the EBM without having to consult an independent expert (thus saving you time and money).
If, following our initial review, you decide to instruct one of our independent experts, we can then obtain a full expert report focusing on the particular issue. Most of our experts have arrangements in place with UK laboratories and machine manufacturers, meaning we can gain exclusive access to important records without having to go through the CPS’s lengthy disclosure process.
There are three EBM’s currently in use in England and Wales, all of which are type-approved by the Secretary of State. These are:
1. The Lion Intoxilyser 6000 UK
2. The Camic Datamaster
3. The Intox EC/IR.
By law, you should have been provided with a copy of the printout produced by the machine at the end of the procedure (it looks very similar to a till receipt). This printout contains very limited data, but it can be particularly helpful. If you are not provided with a copy, there is no evidence of the machine’s calibration (thus the court should not convict you).