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drink-driving law changes


From the 10th April 2015 new changes to drink driving laws come into force which are expected to have a monumental impact upon suspected drink drivers.

Firstly the right (commonly known as the statutory option) for a suspected drink driver to have a blood/urine test is abolished (except for medical reasons).  Drivers who give a breath reading at the police station of 35 microgrammes or less would be under the the legal limit in 100 millilitres of breath and therefore released.

Where the reading was above the legal limit in breath but was 50 microgrammes or less, the suspected drink driver would have been offered a blood/urine test.  It is commonly believed that if the correct procedures are followed then a urine/blood test is more accurate.

The problem for the police and the prosecution was that correct procedures for taking blood/urine weren’t always followed.

The second fundamental change is abolishing the need for a preliminary roadside test.  The reading of the preliminary test at the roadside never previously counted. Upon a positive reading, the driver was arrested and conveyed to the police station for a formal breath test.  This often led to delays of an hour or more.  In the meantime the alcohol level in the breath/urine/blood continued to diminish.

Under the new drink driving laws drivers can tested at the roadside without needing to be conveyed to the police station.  The reading at the roadside will be the basis for any prosecution.  The readings will be higher which will lead to drink drivers falling into the higher categories of the sentencing guidelines for drink driving.

As specialist drink driving solicitors it will be all the more important to see specialist legal advice due to the higher risk of custodial sentence/community orders, lengthier disqualifications etc.  When we consider the prosecution papers we can advise whether the correct roadside procedure was followed.  Some clients may even give readings ‘off the scale’ due to post-incident consumption of alcohol.

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