Inverness Drink Driving Lawyers & Solicitors

Thanks to the fact that so many people are injured – and cause injury to others – while driving under the influence of alcohol, this offence in particular has received a lot of attention from Scottish Police forces.

At certain points of the year, for example Christmas or during major sporting events, there are campaigns to help people to understand the dangers of driving under the influence, and to try to cut down the number of people who choose to do so. An increase in social responsibility has meant that the number of people convicted of drink driving has fallen, however there are still many who are on the wrong side of the law in this respect. Recently, the law has been changed, and this means that drivers aren’t allowed to have as much alcohol in either their breath, blood or urine as they may have been able to have in the past.

 

WHAT THE LAW STATES

Section 5(1)(a) Road Traffic Act 1988

It is an offence for a person to drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in their breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit.

Section 5(1)(b) applies to a person who is in charge of a motor vehicle and whose breath, blood or urine alcohol level exceeds the prescribed limit. (It is a defence under Section 5 (1)(b) that there was no likelihood of driving at the time of the alleged offence)

(Section 4 offences include driving under the influence of drink or drugs, and carries with it the same penalty of disqualification)

Drink Driving is a serious offence and carries with it significant penalties.

There is a minimum period of 1 years disqualification
If a second offence for drink driving occurs within 10 years, 3 years disqualification is the minimum period of disqualification
Failure to provide a specimen of breath at a police office carries the same minimum period of disqualification of 1 year or drink driving ban
The legal processes that must be followed by the police in drink driving cases can be complicated and require the attention of a skilled road traffic expert
There have been a number of significant changes in the law in the last few years.

There are new prescribed alcohol limits in Scotland. As of December 2014:

22ug in 100ml of breath (formerly 35ug in 100ml of breath)

50mg in 100ml of blood (formerly 80mg in 100ml of blood)

67mg in 100ml of urine (formerly 107mg in 100ml of urine)

There has been the removal of a statutory right to provide an alternative specimen of blood or urine in “borderline” cases(since April 2015, by virtue of the Deregulation Act 2015)
The device most commonly used by Police Scotland in analysis of breath alcohol is the Intoximeter EC/IR device. A complete understanding of this machine and its limitations is essential for any road traffic expert
Previous convictions for drink driving(section 5) or failing to cooperate (section 6 or section 7 offences) can lead to consideration of prison sentences.
Reductions in disqualification periods.
The Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme can be offered to an accused where he/she is convicted of a relevant offence. This typically can reduce a period of disqualification by 25%. The court and the accused must agree to all terms at the time of sentencing

In defending any prosecution under section 5 Road Traffic Act it is essential that the instructed legal representative understands the following:

the requirements of the police investigating a drink driving allegation including relevant cautions
essential areas of challenge including those of the equipment used by the Police (such as calibration, servicing, incident log history, testing processes, police training with the equipment etc)
available defences such as post incident drinking and accuracy of back calculations often undertaken by the prosecution
current Police Scotland training methods in the use of the relevant devices and areas of weakness
A lot of what was commonly described as ‘loopholes’ in the law over recent years was really a misrepresentation. What was fairly common however was a poorly prepared Crown case and possibly a poorly trained police officer(s) who had conducted much of the investigation.

Over the past 5-10 years the Crown have tightened up their knowledge on the subject of drink driving fines & prosecutions as have the Police. There are rarely the very basic errors which were common previously.

There are however many lines of enquiry that a good road traffic lawyer will want to make before deciding on the best course to take.

If an alcohol reading seems unlikely, or you feel that the police have done something that didn’t seem right at the time in their investigation, or you simply want advice on what is best for you, you should engage a drink driving lawyer from the outset.

We regularly employ top forensic experts and scientists in their field to examine the case against an accused. This is because science is often at the heart of the prosecution case, and the prosecution often make mistakes or arrive at false assumptions.

 

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THE KEY TO A STRONG DEFENCE IS KNOWING WHAT THE POLICE DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW

 

DO THE POLICE EVEN KNOW HOW TO USE THE EQUIPMENT?

In any case where the police have caught you using any form of speed detection equipment, in car systems, dash mounted or hand held devices of any kind, the police officers will be required to give evidence in court if you challenge the charge. If you challenge the ‘accuracy’ of the equipment the test for the prosecution is even greater. The police will need to demonstrate that the equipment is type approved, and has been properly tested, serviced and most importantly calibrated prior to use by the police. The police officers will also need to demonstrate that the equipment was “calibrated” and working as intended by the manufacturer immediately before use on the day the police used it to detect the speed of your vehicle. This is often much trickier for the police than it sounds and poses a problem for many a prosecutor.   IS THE EQUIPMENT CERTIFICATION CURRENT? If the device used by the police does not have a current calibration certificate it may not be used in speed detection. It should always be checked as an absolute minimum inquiry of the prosecution case.   ARE THE TESTS ON THE EQUIPMENT VALID? Speed detection equipment that falls in to the category of ‘type approved’ must always be maintained by suitably qualified technicians. It is not good enough that unqualified individuals simply carry out an assessment of the equipment. It is always worth checking the service history as well as the calibration of the equipment. Checks should be made that the servicing and technical assessment of the equipment has been carried out within the appropriate time periods, and that it was undertaken by a qualified individual. There will also be a log for the use of the equipment. This will be held by the police and can be requested. This will indicate whether the equipment has in fact been used before, how often. It may reveal issues that would not be otherwise apparent.   HOW DID THE POLICE USE THE EQUIPMENT ON THE DAY. WAS IT CORRECT AND PER MANUFACTURER’S USER GUIDELINES? If the police carried out the proper procedures on the day of the use of the equipment, they will have checked whether the equipment appeared to be working properly. They will then have been required to test the equipment against pre determined distances. This is to ensure that on the day of use the equipment was capable of accurate measurement. The equipment should always be checked on the day of use, both before and after use on the roads. A failure to perform these important checks can be fatal to a prosecution.   ALL EQUIPMENT CAN PRODUCE BAD RESULTS IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES This is a fact. The poor skills of an operator, or their ignorance as to the proper use of the device, can give rise to inaccurate results. The inherent faults found within some of these devices can also contribute to false results. The manufacturer guidelines for all speed detection equipment is a crucial starting point for any serious challenge to the test results being used against you. To competently challenge the weaknesses often present in speeding cases, you will require the assistance of a specialist road traffic lawyer.   AT BLACKWATER ROAD TRAFFIC LAW we assure a strong challenge to every speeding prosecution.