Drunk driving offences are all too common and the police force are continuing to crack down on drivers that continue to put themselves and others at serious risk of injury or death by getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Whether or not you have been drinking and driving, what happens if you are stopped by the police and are asked to perform a breath test? What if you refuse to do so? Are you entitled to refuse? What are the consequences of refusing or failing to provide a specimen?
If you refuse or fail to provide a specimen of breath when stopped by the police and asked to do so you are committing an offence. Unless you can prove that you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for not complying with the request from the police, you will be convicted and penalised.
A ‘reasonable excuse’ is more often than not an excuse based on medical grounds such as the fact that you have breathing difficulties and feel they would be exacerbated by having to blow into the breathalyzer. Similarly, if you are taken to the police station and asked to give a specimen of blood it may be a ‘reasonable excuse’ to say that you have a fear of needles and therefore cannot comply with their request. However, in both circumstances your excuse must be fully backed up by supportive medical evidence if you are to have any chance of succeeding in your defence.
If you are convicted of failing to provide a specimen, either because you have no defence or your defence has failed, you will be penalised. If your conviction is for failing to provide a specimen at the roadside you will receive four penalty points on your licence or a discretionary disqualification. If your conviction relates to failing to provide a specimen of breath, urine or blood at the police station you will receive a fine and will be disqualified from driving for a minimum of 12 months. However, if you have been previously convicted of a driving offence within the last ten years the minimum disqualification period will be reduced to 3 years.
If you do find yourself in the position of being stopped by the police and asked to take part in a breath test – whether or not you have been drinking alcohol – unless you have a genuine, reasonable excuse for not doing so, you should always comply with the request. Refusing to do so is highly likely to lead to severe Penalisation by way of penalty points, fines or disqualification.