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This week’s most interesting questions –

Conor Johnstone
14 February 2017

Conor Johnstone - Solicitor

As a specialist motoring defence firm offering free initial advice, there’s no end to the type of questions we might get asked. I’ve chosen some of this week’s most interesting. 

Our solicitors offer free initial advice on all motoring offence enquiries. Please free free to contact Conor direct on 01514228020.

Q. You’re at a pub and you suspect someone is going to drink drive. Can you lawfully use force to stop them from entering their car?

A. In accordance with Section 3(1) Criminal Law Act 1967, a person may use such force as is reasonable in the prevention of crime. Force may be considered to be reasonable if it was necessary in the circumstances (i.e. was there a need for any force at all?).

However, it would, in my view, be unwise to use force in an attempt to stop someone from committing a drink driving offence. Leave it to the professionals. If you suspect that someone is – or might be about to – drive a vehicle whilst over the prescribed limit, you should dial 999 immediately.

Q. You physically prevented someone from entering their car and they were injured as a result. Could they take legal action?

A. In theory, yes. We’re all familiar with the scene in The Incredibles where Mr Incredible faces a lawsuit after injuring a suicidal man whilst attempting to save his life.

The circumstances of each case will need to be considered very carefully. Prosecutors should consider whether it is in the public interest to prosecute someone who may have prevented a more serious crime from being committed. Having said that, the Government will discourage vigilante style behaviour. If the force used was excessive in relation to the severity of the offence being committed, a criminal prosecution may result.

There is, of course, the possibility that civil proceedings would be brought against you for a tortious act (as it was in The Incredibles!). As a criminal defence firm, we do not deal with – and cannot advise on – points of civil litigation.

Q. Is a landlord legally liable for serving drink to someone who they know will be driving later?

It is a criminal offence for bartender or landlord to serve alcohol to an already intoxicated person. Customers should regulate their own consumption of alcohol. A bartender or landlord will very rarely be subject to a criminal prosecution in these circumstances.

Q. If you’re drunk, can you sleep in your car? What are the conditions?

A. Under Section 5(1)(b) Road Traffic Act 1988, it is a criminal offence to be in charge of a motor vehicle whilst over the prescribed limit. The penalty for a Drunk in Charge offence can range from 10 points on your licence to 6 weeks in prison (and a lengthy disqualification), depending upon the breath reading provided and the circumstances of the offence.

If you’re leaving the pub after a few drinks, stay clear of your vehicle and call a taxi. You do not have to be driving the vehicle for this offence to be committed. Sleeping or sitting in your vehicle will be sufficient.

As a team of specialists, we have successfully defended countless drunk in charge allegations. If we can show that there was no likelihood that you would have driven the vehicle (despite clearly being in control of it), this can be a complete defence.

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