Breath test confusion.

Milton

Well-known member
#1
An extract from the Dorset Echo regarding the Police Christmas drink drive campaign.

Police Inspector Joe Pardey said:

“If police think you are unfit to drive through consumption of alcohol, even if your breath test
registers lower than the prescribed limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath
you can still be arrested and may be charged with an offence.
In short, you do not have to be drunk to be a drink driver. Don’t risk it.”

Oh dear, so you can now be prosecuted for being a drink driver even if you've passed the breath test.
Now I'm really confused.
 
#2
An extract from the Dorset Echo regarding the Police Christmas drink drive campaign.

Police Inspector Joe Pardey said:

“If police think you are unfit to drive through consumption of alcohol, even if your breath test
registers lower than the prescribed limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath
you can still be arrested and may be charged with an offence.
In short, you do not have to be drunk to be a drink driver. Don’t risk it.”

Oh dear, so you can now be prosecuted for being a drink driver even if you've passed the breath test.
Now I'm really confused.
It is an offence to drive while unfit through drink or drugs under s.4(1) of The Road Traffic Act 1988.

You can be charged with this offence without being over the legal limit if your ability to drive is impaired.
 

Milton

Well-known member
#3
Thanks for your reply.
However, you are not legally required to provide a specimen of blood or urine if you have passed
a breath test.
 
#4
Thanks for your reply.
However, you are not legally required to provide a specimen of blood or urine if you have passed
a breath test.
You dont need to give a blood or urine sample to be convicted. You can be convicted of this offence even if you pass a breath test.

Evidence of alcohol being in your system or that you have consumed alcohol is enough (or drugs).
 

Milton

Well-known member
#5
OK so if you have passed a breath test and not given a blood or urine sample, what legal evidence
is there to support alcohol in your system?
 
#6
Oh dear, so you can now be prosecuted for being a drink driver even if you've passed the breath test.
Now I'm really confused.
OK so if you have passed a breath test and not given a blood or urine sample, what legal evidence
is there to support alcohol in your system?
By passing a breath test I am referring to blowing less than the legal limit, as was the police officer that was quoted, not zero. Perhaps 'passing' is the wrong word to use.

"If police think you are unfit to drive through consumption of alcohol, even if your breath test
registers lower than the prescribed limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath
you can still be arrested and may be charged with an offence
."

This is a true statement. You can be charged with driving whilst unfit through drink even if your breath test registers lower than the legal limit.
 
Last edited:

TipsyNurse

Well-known member
#7
The police only need to judge that your driving was impaired.

In the end the police prosecute plenty of offences where your driving is crap for no reason. Prosecuting it when they know you have consumed something that impairs driving is hardly a giant leap. We are used with motoring offences to being give a number - 34 no, 35 yes, but magistrates courts are used to dealing with convicting solely on the evidence of witnesses.

That said, for obvious reasons, the police much prefer to prosecute on a breath/blood/urine sample. S4 tends only to be used in exceptional cases
 
#8
The moderator and TipsyNurse are correct. I have seen a case where a young person was under the legal limit (but did produce a reading indicating alcohol in his system) but was prosecuted under S4 for being unfit to drive. He was very small and - I think - only 16 years old. The amount in his system was under the legal limit but it was sufficient in a young small person to impair his ability to drive. A police officer is allowed to give ‘expert evidence’ on the question of intoxication so his evidence was added to the reading to provide sufficient evidence to convict.
There was also a case where a person made off from the scene of an accident so was not subject of breath test procedures but was convicted on the evidence of witnesses at the scene and evidence from people at the pub where he had been drinking. This was accepted as proof that he was unfit to drive through drink, but there was no actual reading to show that he was “over the prescribed limit”
 

Milton

Well-known member
#9
Thanks to Tipsy Nurse and Mr Price for the replies.
From the information you supplied I assume if your driving isn't impeccable then the drink drive
limit is actually zero.
I find that quite worrying.
When I drink I don't drive for at least 22 to 24 hours. However, I suppose I may have a very small level
of alcohol still in my blood.
I'm not a perfect driver and I do make the occasional mistake. Despite this, I haven't had an accident in
44 years.
I therefore assume it's only a matter of time before I loose my licence for 12 months, receive an 11 year
DR20 endorsement and a criminal record.
 
#10
I don't think they would prosecute you for having a tiny amount of alcohol in your blood, unless your driving was impaired.

A police officer can arrest you if they suspect you're unfit to drive through alcohol or over the prescribed limit, under S4 of the RTA, as mentioned above.

Whereas they would normally arrest you under S5, if they don't have any breathalisers on them they could arrest under S4 and charge under S5 when back at the station if you fail the evidential breathaliser. They could also arrest you under S4 if you were obviously unfit to drive even if you were under the limit.

Whereas it is possible to charge under S4, most would revert to S5 back at the station.

I think a S4 conviction would result in a DR20 on your licence, whereas a S5 would be a DR10. The penalties are the same.
 
#11
In reality although police can use S4 by itself it is 99.999% of the time used to arrest someone at the side of the road when they don't have a breath tester.

They then take you back to the station, get a breath test and charge you under S5.

The only realistic way they could charge you under S4 is if they had some evidence that you had drunk an amount which would almost certainly impair your driving, e.g. if you are stopped and you/someone else tells them you had recently drunk a large amount of alcohol. It wouldn't run if you told them you'd had a bottle of wine 24hrs previous, they would just charge you with careless driving, dangerous driving or the number of other offences where they only need to prove your driving was crap, not why it was crap.
 
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