TOO DRUNK TO PROVIDE A SPECIMEN?

The case of Michael Camp, heard in a Lincoln Magistrates Court is bound to cause significant controversy, and indeed likely CPS appeal, when District Judge Peter Veits concluded that the Defendant’s drunken state was sufficient to provide him with a “reasonable excuse” for not providing the mandatory second specimen of breath.   A reasonable excuse for failing to provide a specimen at the Police Station, should be as a result of a “genuine physical or mental health condition” and has always been notoriously difficult to prove.  This is particularly so due to the fact that a reverse burden of proof falls on the Defendant in such cases, with medical evidence normally having to be obtained from an expert in support of any such defence.

Mark Weekes told the High Court: ‘Physical incapacity by means of excessive drunkenness could neither be a valid excuse nor a defence to the charge.’  But Solicitors for the Defendant in this case, stated that police officers failed to follow procedures because they did not take samples of his blood or urine instead of a breath sample.  Such a procedure is often common practice when a suitable breath sample cannot be taken for medical reasons, or if the required recording device for taking samples of breath is not working.  It is not clear why this procedure was not conducted in this particular case. The appeal ruling will be given at a later date.

Anyone convicted of failing to provide a specimen faces at least a 12-month driving ban and, in some cases, a possible custodial sentence.  Although the facts of this particular case are unusual, it is essential that anyone facing a charge of failing to provide a specimen seeks specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity.  It is often the case that successful defences can be mounted against these charges, but doing so requires careful scrutiny of the way that the procedures were conducted at the Police Station, and in some cases; the instruction of an expert to deal with any physical or mental health conditions which arise.

Our solicitors have extensive experience of dealing with these notoriously difficult cases.  If you have been charged with failing to provide a specimen, contact your local Reeds office and ask for one of our motoring law specialists.