The law governing drink related offences is exceptionally technical and complex. This can often lead to errors which may prove fatal to subsequent proceedings. The police must follow the procedures which have been set down by legislation. Procedural errors by the police or any other person involved in the proceedings may also result in a drink driving case being dismissed. A technical defence may be available if it is established that the machine used to measure the level of alcohol was not working properly or that it was incorrectly operated. An acquittal may also come about by uncovering failures in forensic and evidential procedures. Other defences include:
The Hip Flask or Post Incident Driving Defence might be available in circumstances where it can be established that the driver was not over the limit at the time they were driving, but consumed alcohol after driving and before providing a sample to the police. The defence can still operate even if the driver had consumed some alcohol before driving, but not enough to have taken him over the prescribed limit. These types of defences often require expert evidence from a forensic toxicologist.
Defence of Emergency, Necessity or Duress
A successful defence may be established if a person is genuinely compelled to drink drive because of an emergency. The same rationale applies where a person drink drives due to threats of death or serious physical injury. The defence will only succeed if the emergency or threat is immediate or imminent and there is no alternative. When the emergency or threat no longer exists the driver must stop driving. If he continues to drive after the crisis has ceased he is guilty of drink driving, although Special Reasons may be argued for not disqualifying.
Drunk in Charge
If a person can establish that he was not driving or attempting to drive then a charge of drink driving may be reduced to one of Drunk in Charge. Disqualification may be avoided with the imposition of penalty points. Moreover, a statutory defence of “No Likelihood of Driving” may result in an acquittal all together (see section on Drunk in Charge).
Special Reasons provide an explanation for why a particular course of driving took place and can be defined as mitigating circumstances which do not amount to a defence, but allows the court to refrain from disqualification or impose a lesser period of disqualification. Special Reasons must relate to the nature of the offence and not to the circumstances of the driver. If successful, therefore, disqualification for a drink driving offence can be avoided altogether.
Drink Drivers Rehabilitation Course
If you are convicted or plead guilty to a drink driving charge the minimum period of disqualification can be reduced by attendance at a Drink Driver’s Rehabilitation Course. Periods of disqualification are reduced by up to one quarter so that a 12 month ban will be reduced to 9 months on completion of the course.