At Just Motor Law we often speak to drivers who have been charged with failing to provide a specimen who inform us that they didn’t cooperate with the police because they hadn’t been driving nor had they been intending to drive.
This does not provide them with a defence for not providing a specimen of breath, urine or blood. As long as the police officer made the arrest in good faith because he believed that an offence of drink driving or being drunk in charge had taken place, it doesn’t matter that the police were mistaken about whether you had actually been driving.
The law still penalises you if you do not provide the sample when requested. If the failure to provide a sample follows an arrest for being in charge of a vehicle then the court can sentence you to either 10 points or a discretionary disqualification. If the failure to provide a specimen follows an arrest for an allegation of drink driving (driving with excess alcohol), then after a guilty plea, the court have a power of mandatory disqualification from driving for a minimum of 12 months.
Does this seem grossly unfair if you were actually not driving nor was there any likelihood of you driving while over the legal limit? Unfortunately, there is no defence in such circumstances! However, our legal system generally does have the scope to deal with potential iniquities. This is where this particular special reasons argument comes in.
A special reason is in general terms, ‘a mitigating or extenuating factor, which relates to the circumstances of the offence, that a court should properly take account of when sentencing’. It cannot provide a defence of course, so in our situation the circumstances do not provide a defence in law. The fact that you were not driving or not attempting to or likely to drive can be taken on board by the court at the point of sentence. If the court accepts your argument, then it can decide not to disqualify you from driving or decide not to endorse penalty points on your licence.
This particular thread of special reasons argument was established in two cases in the High Court in the 1980’s and is one that the courts are generally unfamiliar with. Indeed, this is an argument that many solicitors are unfamiliar with! At Just Motor Law it’s always extremely rewarding to root out obscure case law that can make all the difference in a case.
Just Motor Law is experienced in winning cases of this kind and should you find yourself in a similar predicament then our team of experts will be happy to advise you on your options. It is important that you are not prejudiced by the magistrates being unaware of this little known special reasons argument that could actually save your driving licence.