Tescos car park

#1
I was recently stopped, about midnight, leaving Tescos car park. The officers informed me that they had received an annonymous tip off from a member of the public that I may have been drinking. I was not stopped because of my driving. The location for the stop was the access road into Tescos. It had taken me about 1 min or less to arrive at that location after leaving the store. I queried the tip off but this fell on deaf ears and was ordered to do a breath test or get arrested.
I failed the test and at the station blew 44. I was not held at station and when released, I was driven back to Tescos where I collected my car and drove home, the officers were aware that I intended to drive home, I live about 5 mins drive from Tesco.

I am not sure if the access road is considered private or not, although I am aware that the time of day can alter the perception of private or public place.

I would appreciate any information that can assist me, I am well aware that it was my own fault although in defence, I honestly did not believe that I was over limit or I wouldn't have gone to Tesco. I was in the middle of a relationship break down and had hardly eaten for over a week before this.

Am I entitled to find out where this anonymous tip came from, it seems a bit odd that a member of the public could tell that I was just over limit !! Or is this just a made up excuse that the police have used to stop me, my driving was fine or they would have stopped me for that, my mind was probably elsewhere whilst in Tesco as I had just argued with my ex, so maybe this is what prompted the police to pull me.

Any help massively appreciated as this is my first DD conviction and I cannot afford to lose my licence.
 

AlanT73

Active member
#2
I believe that the definition of private property when it comes to drink driving is quite specific in that the property must have no easy access to the general public, for example a privately owned field with locked gated access and no other means for the public to access the area. The access road to a supermarket would be considered public at any time of the day (particularly if it a 24 hr store as is implied by your comment about it being 1 minute to arrive at the location after leaving the store). If you plead guilty and it's your 1st offence in 10 years you are looking at a minimum 12 month ban with the possibility of a reduction to 9 months if the rehabilitation course s offered and accepted.

I don't believe that the police have to reveal the source of their tip off but as you were over the limit anyway it is a moot point.
 
#3
Thanks for your reply. The issue of public or private road is a grey area, a pub car park is considered public whilst the pub is open but private when it is closed. There is no requirement whatsoever for private land to be fenced off or even sign posted as private.
My issue here is that the police have to suspect an offence has occurred, a tip off is not suspicion but I believe that it gives them grounds to investigate further, i.e. watching my driving to see if I am driving erratically or committing an offence. This did not happen, the time taken for them to pull me over negates this. I am guessing that they waited until the access road to pull me over as they were unable to do anything in the car park, if they were genuinely convinced that I had been drinking then surely the safe option would have been to breath test me as soon as I entered my car. I know that this is a long shot but the police MUST follow the law in order to uphold the law, if they do not follow the correct procedures then they themselves are guilty too. I feel that the stop was illegal, in the circumstances, therefore the request to provide a breath test was illegal too. Us motorists are easy pickings for the police, we have little or no comeback to their procedural failings. Most courts work on the principal that you were guilty regardless of how we found out yet most other serious crimes have very strict rules regarding the obtaining of evidence.
 

AlanT73

Active member
#4
As far as drink driving goes you will find that the definition of private and public land is not grey at all and has very little if anything to do with the time of day. The issue is whether the public has access. The pub may be closed at 10:00 a.m. but the public could still park in it's car park to go shopping nearby or walk across it to access another area. As far as the court will be concerned any land must have NO risk of public access to be considered private. A supermarket access road falls well outside this definition.

If you feel the stop was illegal I suggest you engage with an expert traffic lawyer who can look closely into the facts to determine if you have a case.
 
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#5
As far as i'm aware, the police can stop any vehicle for a 'documents check' - so basically they can stop people at random regardless of your driving.

I don't finish work until 1-2am, so I've been pulled over a couple of times. When I asked why - officer said 'no reason in particular' and then checked my details on his little machine and off I went. Obviously there was a reason - he was fishing for drink drivers, and 2am on a Sunday morning is a great time to find some!

I think the legality of the stop is a non-issue really. The place you were stopped will also be considered a public place - Tesco was obviously open or you wouldn't have been there?

The only way you'd be able to keep your licence is if you convinced the court there were special reasons for you driving i.e. an emergency. Otherwise you'd have to plead not-guilty, instruct a specialist solicitor (big money) and hope the police/CPS have made errors with the procedure.

At least the reading was low. 44 with no aggravating factors is generally a 12 month ban - reduced to 9 with the course.
 
#6
Sorry mate, I don't mind people having an opinion but to claim, as you do, that you are correct is misleading to others that might read this post.

There are numerous cases, available to read online, that disprove your assertion. As far as the law is concerned, a public place is somewhere that the public would normally expect to be with the owners perceived permission. The time of day is relevant, the reasons for being there are relevant and the ease of access is completely irrelevant. A simple sign at the beginning of a road stating that it is a private road is more than sufficient, the fact that this sign is ignored does not make it a public road. A car park is considered public whilst it is used for the purpose that the owners intended, outside of this it is private ( church car park, club car park etc etc )

I appreciate your help but would prefer to stick to fact and not fiction.
 
#7
As far as i'm aware, the police can stop any vehicle for a 'documents check' - so basically they can stop people at random regardless of your driving.

This is correct and if the officer smells alcohol, they can breath test you. However, they cannot randomly breath test without a valid reason. My apparent reason was an anonymous tip off from the public !! Now since my reading was 44, not a lot over the limit, I cannot believe that a random member of the public could come to the conclusion that I had been drinking, especially since I was in Tescos, contact the police who then stopped me based on this information and this information alone !!
 

AlanT73

Active member
#8
It's probably best in that case that you find out for yourself on your day in court where the law stands on public places when it comes to drink driving.

I speak from personal experience of the process (not as a defendant) so am fully aware of what constitutes public and private places where drink driving is concerned.
The access road to a 24 hr supermarket won't be on the list I assure you.

For drink driving it is very specific as I'm sure your solicitor will explain should you choose to engage one.

There are plenty of posts on here that define a public place in cases of drink driving from well qualified people such as Price1367 who is a former police officer and runs one of the organisations that offer the rehab course.

Good luck
 
#9
I think you need to have a little humility, I appreciate this is a very stressful time all of us here can relate to that, however the fact of the matter is you were over the limit and caught. To my understanding you were still on a public road and the police are not required to reveal their tip off, worst case scenario they told a white lie. I appreciate you don't agree with this opinion and will state you are only interested in facts but you are clutching at straws and your alternative is pleading not guilty which will cause an expensive trial and a higher ban. I wish you all the best for your case whatever way you decide to plead and hope you're on the road again soon.
 
#10
Thanks for your reply. The issue of public or private road is a grey area, a pub car park is considered public whilst the pub is open but private when it is closed. There is no requirement whatsoever for private land to be fenced off or even sign posted as private.
My issue here is that the police have to suspect an offence has occurred, a tip off is not suspicion but I believe that it gives them grounds to investigate further, i.e. watching my driving to see if I am driving erratically or committing an offence. This did not happen, the time taken for them to pull me over negates this. I am guessing that they waited until the access road to pull me over as they were unable to do anything in the car park, if they were genuinely convinced that I had been drinking then surely the safe option would have been to breath test me as soon as I entered my car. I know that this is a long shot but the police MUST follow the law in order to uphold the law, if they do not follow the correct procedures then they themselves are guilty too. I feel that the stop was illegal, in the circumstances, therefore the request to provide a breath test was illegal too. Us motorists are easy pickings for the police, we have little or no comeback to their procedural failings. Most courts work on the principal that you were guilty regardless of how we found out yet most other serious crimes have very strict rules regarding the obtaining of evidence.
The issue of private place v public access might be 'grey' but not in your case. The car park at Tesco's (if the store was open) is certainly a public place, as would be the access road to the car park. The suspicion that a motorist is driving a motor vehicle with excess alcohol can be the officers own opinion, from observing the manner of a persons driving or from suspecting alcohol after the motorist has been stopped, normally by smelling intoxicants and / or slurred speech. The grounds for suspecting alcohol can be based on information from a third party, either another police officer or indeed a member of the public.
it may be that a member of staff at Tesco saw you enter the store, smelt alcohol and phoned the police. There have been a number of cases reported where this has happened at petrol stations and even McDonalds.
either way, The circumstances you have quoted were NOT illegal, and a 'tip off', if giving correct details of a vehicle and a suspect, can be sufficient to form reasonable suspicion. If the officer conducted a random stop and then suspected alcohol after the stop, then that is reasonable suspicion as well.
Is one is you may have other avenues to challenge what went on, but public place and reasonable suspicion are both non starters. And no, they do not have to revel their 'source'.
 
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#11
Sorry mate, I don't mind people having an opinion but to claim, as you do, that you are correct is misleading to others that might read this post.

There are numerous cases, available to read online, that disprove your assertion. As far as the law is concerned, a public place is somewhere that the public would normally expect to be with the owners perceived permission. The time of day is relevant, the reasons for being there are relevant and the ease of access is completely irrelevant. A simple sign at the beginning of a road stating that it is a private road is more than sufficient, the fact that this sign is ignored does not make it a public road. A car park is considered public whilst it is used for the purpose that the owners intended, outside of this it is private ( church car park, club car park etc etc )

I appreciate your help but would prefer to stick to fact and not fiction.
If we're talking about technicalities - As a member of the public, I have often used a Tesco carpark (when the store is closed) to use the cashpoint on the wall. The cashpoint is built into the wall of the Tesco store and can be used 24/7 - so you could argue that the carpark is always a public place? You can also buy fuel 24/7 now, even when the garage is closed.

The point I was trying to make is that this defence is really not applicable to you. The same can be said about why the officer breathalysed you. He did have a valid reason - the anonymous tipoff. Out of interest, what did you blow in the carpark? If I drank 2 pints of regular beer, I think i'd be pretty close to being over the limit (35), if not a tad over. I guarantee you that a trained traffic officer would be able to tell i'd had a drink - therefore have a valid reason to ask me to take a test. At the end of the day - it's his opinion. If he says he thought you had a drink and you blew 0, then he was still within his rights to ask you to do the test.

All of this is pretty irrelevant because the roadside test is just a tool that allows the police to conduct further investigation. In a court of law - it means nothing really. The breathalyser at the station is what actually counts, and if you're going to 'get off', then it will probably be because the police messed up the procedure (didn't read you the things they should've etc) or maybe the machine wasn't calibrated properly or something. To be honest, this defence is more successful with blood/urine specimens. Do you know who did the procedure? Was it the same officers that stopped you? Were they traffic officers or beat bobbies? Obviously traffic are more experienced in this area of law and thus less likely to make mistakes.

I'd suggest talking to a specialist motoring solicitor if you want to contest this. For future, I'd also suggest not drink driving because it's stupid, dangerous and expensive - not saying you are a drink driver of course.
 
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splodger

Well-known member
#12
When I was doing my aa course there was a guy on it who was breathalyzed in a private field while having a bbq and beers with his mates and racing there 4x4s. Can't remember what he blew but he went not guilty with legal advice and lost his case. Apparently even though it was private property the gate wasn't locked and there was no signs staying it was private land/ no access to the public.

as you can imagine he was very pissed off and was classed as HRO with a very hefty fine.
 
#13
When I was doing my aa course there was a guy on it who was breathalyzed in a private field while having a bbq and beers with his mates and racing there 4x4s. Can't remember what he blew but he went not guilty with legal advice and lost his case. Apparently even though it was private property the gate wasn't locked and there was no signs staying it was private land/ no access to the public.

as you can imagine he was very pissed off and was classed as HRO with a very hefty fine.
That doesn't surprise me at all. Drink driving law has effectively become a battle of technicalities.

I'm quite keen to see how this pans out. I think you'd be VERY lucky to get acquitted OP.
 
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#14
Sorry boys but there are numerous cases available on the web that show that private land is quite often an easy case to prove. A vicar proved that the church car park was private when the church was not in use. Police will almost always wait for a driver to leave a pub car park before pulling them over. One driver was asleep in his car on a causeway leading to a few properties, he was found not guilty as the causeway was only for the use of these properties, no gates, no signs etc. Another driver was found not guilty on a private access road to properties, the only thing separating this private road and the public road was a strip of grass.
If I had the time, I would provide links but I'm sure you could find them.

This forum, hopefully, is to assist people who have been accused of DD. Now what I did was stupid and I accept that but to lose my licence and have massively increased insurance premiums for the next God knows how long, due to approximately half a pint of beer over the limit is unfair. If I can fight this, legally, great. If I can't, so be it. However I would prefer to see some facts and not opinions, as facts are useful and opinions are not. Cheers
 

hewl

Well-known member
#17
If I recall correctly, your defence was based on a technicality so perhaps 'no offence was committed' is a little misleading. Maybe 'got away with it' would be more accurate but anyway back to this offence.

Your original question has been answered several times by several posters.

A supermarket car park and any access to it is not classed as a private road as it is fully accessible by the public.

If you do not agree with that there was no point in asking in the first place.

As you are adamant that you are right and everyone else is wrong simply plead not guilty and present your evidence, advisably (for you) not just links to a vicars case.

Good luck, keep us updated on the result!
 
#18
If by technicality, you mean the Law, then yes, I must have 'got away with it'.

The accusation that I believe I am right and everyone else is wrong is extremely flippant. I have pointed out that some answers were factually incorrect, misleading to others that come to this forum looking for sound advice.

You have offered no help or advice whatsoever, your only goal appears to be that of 'stirring **** up'.

If you have something meaningful or helpful to post, please do. If not take your childish attitude elsewhere.

I am aware that the 'boys in blue' do like to cause problems on sites like this, is that what you are ???
 
#19
A vicar proved that the church car park was private when the church was not in use.
There's a bit of a difference between a church and a massive supermarket?

I'm guessing the church doesn't have a garage onsite that allows people to get fuel 24/7? It doesn't have people working inside (and therefore using the carpark) whilst it's 'closed', and it doesn't have a 24/7 ATM built into the wall?

Two completely different examples. If you are so adamant that it is how you think it is - why are you asking for advice?
 

hewl

Well-known member
#20
Point being you argued technicalities last time and are doing so once again. Has it not occured to you by now that alcohol and cars do not mix?

You have been told there are no issues with how or why you were stopped. The fact you blew over makes any reasons irrelevant.

You have also been told that a supermarket car park and/or access is not deemed private.

You can argue against these points as much as you like and nit pick with details but it will not alter the facts nor the outcome.

You need to prepare for a disqualification.

Arguing the toss in court as you are here will backfire on you so if you read between the lines l am actually advising you by giving you a reality check.

It may be normal to try and get out of this by any means necessary but you really do not have a get out this time.
 
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