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Failure to provide a specimen

It is an offence to fail to provide a specimen for analysis when requested by a police officer unless there is a reasonable excuse for not doing so. The specimen required may be one of breath, blood or urine.

Many people assume incorrectly that the penalties for failing to provide a specimen are more lenient than those of drink-driving. Obviously it will depend on the circumstances, but the Court will still impose a disqualification where the allegation is one of refusal to test after alleged drunk driving, and the length of disqualification may be greater than it may have been if you cooperated with the testing.

The courts believe the worst about the amount of alcohol that has been taken, if it is blatant attempt to avoid a drink-drive conviction

More than that, they still have the power to impose a prison sentence and a fine up to £5,000 in the most serious of cases.

Two Scenarios

There are two scenarios where a driver, suspected of driving whilst over the prescribed drink drive limit, will be required by a police officer to provide a specimen for analysis.

  • The roadside

The roadside or preliminary test is one of breath. This is governed by Section 6 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, and failure to provide attracts a discretionary disqualification and fine.

  • The police station

Failure to provide a specimen for analysis (the test administered at a police station) is dealt with by Section 7(6) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, and constitutes the more serious of the two offences. Obligatory disqualification of a minimum of 12 months applies in cases where the accused was driving or attempting to drive, whilst disqualification is discretionary with an alternative of 10 penalty points where it is established that the accused was simply in charge of the vehicle.

Defences

If you can prove that you had a reasonable excuse to refuse or fail a defence may be open to you. Usually, this will be a medical condition that prevented you from providing the specimen. In such cases, medical evidence will be required to prove your case.

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