Road Traffic Offences

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Failure to Provide a Specimen

Section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 specifies it is required to provide a specimen of breath at the roadside. It is also a requirement to provide a specimen of breath, blood, or urine at the police station. If the driver refuses to provide a specimen when requested, it will constitute an offence.

What are the penalties for failing to provide a specimen?

The police are legally entitled to request a specimen of breath at the roadside if they have reason to believe that you are driving whilst under the influence of alcohol. Refusing to provide a specimen can lead to three possible offences:

·         Failure to participate in an initial test

You have refused a breathalyser roadside test; this can lead to a licence ban and a fine of up to £1000

·         Failure to provide an evidential specimen

If you have been arrested on suspicion of drink/drug driving, you will be asked to provide a specimen at the police station or in some cases at a hospital. If you refuse to do so, you can face disqualification, an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison.

·         Failure to give permission for a laboratory blood test

If you gave a blood sample at the police station or a sample was collected in a hospital after an accident, the police must ask for your permission to test it. If you deny permission, you will face the same sanctions as if you had refused to provide a specimen.

There is a minimum period of 12 months of disqualification for failure to provide a specimen if a driver has had two or more disqualifications for 56 days or more within three years the Court must disqualify the driver for a minimum of 2 years. In circumstances where drivers have been convicted of a ‘relevant offence’ within 10 years, the Court must disqualify the driver for a minimum of three years.

What defence is there?

There are some valid defences for failing to provide a specimen with these can include but are not limited to:

·         The police officer concerned failed to inform you of your rights

·         You suffer from a medical condition that prevents you from successfully providing a sample or using a breathalyser effectively.

·         The Police were undertaking random breath tests, they should only request you to provide a specimen if they have evidence that you are under the influence of alcohol/drugs.

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