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Drink Driving Charge: Breath Sample

Did you give a breath sample at the police station?

Speak to Neil or Gillian

0800 433 2880

We have won over 90% of our trials involving a sample of breath since 2008*

Millions of motorists will be breathalysed and charged with drink driving every year.  

Despite significant penalties and often life-changing consequences, many motorists will plead guilty to this offence without ever having sought any legal advice. This is often due to poor advice received at the police statiion or the feeling that they simply had no other choice. 

Drink driving cases account for a huge proportion of the work we deal with here at Motoring Defence Solicitors and we believe that our success rate speaks for itself. This success has been achieved through years of experience in dealing with allegation of this nature and working with the country’s leading barristers and expert witnesses. 

It is important that you have confidence in your chosen representatives and hopefully our success rate will provide you with some reassurance of our expertise. We also urge you to contact us so we can discuss the details of your case and provide you with bespoke advice completely free of charge. 

Drink Driving Cases Involving a Sample of Breath

If you have not already read our drink driving page then we urge you to do so. The information below is specifically for those who are facing a drink driving allegation after donating a sample of breath at the police station. 

Being Stopped by Police and Charged

There are many different circumstances under which you may have been arrested and charged. 

We often answer a lot of questions motorists have about what happened at the roadside but ultimately, for the police to charge you with drink driving they need to have evidence that:

 1. You were driving a vehicle;
2. On a public road or in a public place;
3. Whilst you were over the prescribed limit of alcohol.
In most cases, the suspect has been arrested (for whatever reason the police give), taken to the police station and then provided a “evidential breath sample”.

The Strength of Evidence

When helping motorists charged with drink driving, we specifically look at the evidence the police and prosecution have in respect of the elements listed above. We often find ways to have pieces of evidence excluded from a case which makes it impossible for the Proseuction to prove what they need to in order to secure a conviction at trial. For example, if the only evidence they have of you driving is a witness statement from a civilian, we may be able to find a way to exclude that statement from evidence which will weaken their case and increase the chances of success at trial.

In a typical drink driving case however, the most important piece of evidence is the result of the breath test as this is the only evidence that may show you were over the prescribed limit. You may not agree that you should have been above the limit and therefore have no confidence in the breath test result. It is for this reason that we particularly scrutinse the breathalyser devices.

The Breathalyser Devices

You should have been offered a copy of the printout from the device used to breathalyse you. The printout resembles a receipt and contains your breath-test results.

There are three types of breathalyser used by the police and the printout will tell you the name of it and these devices are not infallible.  It is by examining these devices that we can often identify flaws in the breath-test analysis which may amount to a defence.

Name: The Lion Intoxilyser

Manufacturer: Lion Laboratories

With premises in South Wales and USA; Lion are likely one of the largest manufacturers of breath test devices to police stations around England and Wales. Their flagship breathalyser is the Lion Intoxilyser 6000 UK.  This device is primarily used in the North of England and Wales but there are some police stations further south that also utilise it however these are sparse.

Name: Intoximeter EC/IR

Manufacturer: Intoximeters Inc

A privately held company based in St Louis, Missouri USA with a second offence in Devon and if you are based in the lower half of the country you will likely have been tested using this machine. Its printout is easily identifiable as a long and thin piece of paper

Name: Datamaster

Manufacturer: Car u0026amp; Medical Instruments Company (CAMIC)

The Datamaster is produced by CAMIC and is installed in sporadic locations across England and Wales. Printout is larger than the others, but its name will be printed clearly across the top. Unlike with Intoximeters and Lion, we could not find an official website for CAMIC online.

Frequently Asked Questions about Breath Samples

Can you be charged with drink driving without a breath test?

A charge of driving in excess of the legal limit of alcohol follows where a person has provided two specimens of breath for analysis at a police station, so the short answer is no.  However, alternative charges of being drunk in charge of a vehicle or driving whilst unfit or offer alternatives where the evidence of driving is at issue, or where the evidential breath test is not completed.

Do I have to fail a roadside breath test to be arrested for drink driving?

No.  An officer needs only has to reasonably suspect that you have been drinking alcohol before driving to arrest and take you to a police station for an evidential breath test procedure to be conducted.

What happens if I refuse to provide a breath sample at the roadside?

There is a separate offence of failing to provide a preliminary specimen of breath (meaning a sample at the roadside), but, in any event, whether you refuse or fail, an arrest will most likely follow, and you will be taken to the police station for the substantive test to be carried out.  If, however, the evidential test found you to be under the limit for prosecution, you can be charged with failing to provide a roadside sample, which carries a penalty of 4 points, or a disqualification and a fine.

Can I drive after failing a breath test?

If you fail an evidential breath test at the police station, meaning that you provide a reading of 40 or above (the prosecution limit), you will be charged and convicted of failing an evidential sample of breath.  If you plead guilty at the hearing, following charge, you will be disqualified from driving immediately at the point that the court pass sentence.  If you plead not guilty, the court, on most occasions, will allow you to continue to drive until the day of trial.  If you successfully defend the charge, you will continue to drive.  If not, a disqualification will immediately follow for a period of at least 12 months.