Drink driving in Scotland is treated, as you may expect, as a serious offence and an offence where the court will consider whether a custodial sentence is necessary. Repeat drink drivers can expect their vehicle to be forfeited and sold. We are all aware that the consequences for victims of drink driving can be a source of tragedy particularly when some innocent person is injured or killed.
Generally the police and the Crown prepare drink driving cases very well in Scotland as these cases are serious matters and are worthy of public resources but mistakes can and do occur in drink driving cases. Mistakes in Crown preparation and in defence preparation.
No one wants to face a drink driving charge alone. It is therefore all the more important to seek out professional help at the earliest opportunity. Mistakes do occur in Drink driving cases. Often these cases involve technical defences where evidence requires to be secured at the earliest opportunity. (Even before you appear in court on the drink drive charge)
We can help provide peace of mind. We guarantee prompt response to your e-mail, texts, phone calls. We use the net not just to promote our service but to keep in touch with you and to deliver information and results. We have a vast experience in representing people from all walks of life faced with a drink driving charge. If a mistake has occurred in your drink driving case, we will find it and we will advise you about what it might mean to your case.
Drink driving charges carry a significant social stigma but that does not mean that everyone charged with such an offence is guilty. WE believe in the presumption of innocence and we will have no hesitation in testing the Crown case in a full and forthright manner. There is a method of reducing any period of ban by up to 25% in such cases.
We frequently deal with delicate situations. You may rest assured that we are committed to communicating with you and having a dynamic impact on your case.
A 2nd or subsequent drink driving case in Scotland is dealt with in a different way than the rest of the UK. In Scotland the Crown can move the court to forfeit your car and have it sold off with ZERO being paid back to you. This is not the only difference. If acquitted in Scotland you will NOT be able to recover your court costs.
A huge amount of expertise comes from practical court experience. Either by prosecuting or defending individuals or businesses. That is what we have been doing for more than 30 years.
Drink Driving and Speeding cases, can involve a great deal of technical and scientific information in addition to knowledge of the basic governing laws, our experience may be the most critical thing.
Road Traffic cases can be among the most difficult to defend. Because of the complexity, several mistakes can be made when it comes to defending Road Traffic cases. The outcome can mean being jailed, losing you licence, losing your job, paying considerable fines, , losing your car, having a huge hike in your insurance premium, and the current and future effect on your job and prospects.
10 Mistakes In Drink Driving Cases…
Mistake 1- Assuming The Case Is A Loser
After getting the breath analysis test result and the copy complaint, some people might simply give up and plead guilty.
The breath test, the alcohol blood level test, and the roadside tests that the arrested person has to perform all have potential built-in flaws. Flaws which can make the difference between losing your licence or not.
For example, the results of a breath test can be challenged. The Log Book detailing all tests that day can be examined by the defence to check for signs of flaws or tampering. Experts can be instructed to check the analysis machine itself and checks can be made reading the police procedures at time of testing. We have even had experience of an entry that had been “tippexed” then changed.
Of course it is more costly to defend a case than to plead guilty but this is because of all the extra work and court time that will be involved.
But with so much at stake (including considerable insurance penalty fees), the possibility of winning should not be dismissed.It may cost less than you think.
Mistake 2- Assuming The Police Always Get It Right
- the sample was not taken properly.
- the results indicate that the analysis device was not properly calibrated
- your breath sample was interrupted e.g. sickness
- you had something in your mouth, such as chewing gum, tobacco etc.
- you were on a special diet.
- you have diabetes, asthma, other relevant medical condition.
- you have ill fitting dentures.
- you had close contact in a confined space with paint or solvents.
- an alcohol antiseptic was used when blood was drawn.
By not contesting the evidence you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get to question the arresting officers. If a Trial is set the defence will get the chance to interview the police officers and examine the physical productions before you attend court. You will then have the opportunity to attack the results on the grounds that the technical rules werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t followed.
Mistake 3-Assuming The Breath Analysis Machine Is Infallible
Wrong. I can’t think of a machine that hasn’t broken down sometime. All the defence require to do is show the Sheriff that there is room for a “reasonable doubt” regarding the reliability of the machine and your licence is saved.
Laymen and even lawyers are sometimes guilty of failing to read the piece of legislation that the case relates too. All the statutes and the regulations governing the use of technical equipment requires to be read and understood.
Those that donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know the laws and regulations donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t realise that violations of the rules introduce into evidence matters that can be suppressed from the trial on the grounds of fairness to the accused.
Thus, to defend you properly, a lawyer should get copies of the various logs, maintenance records, printout of sample taken etc. Sadly, it has been known for lawyers and unrepresented parties to just have the complaint and the arrest report.
Mistake 4- Not Objecting To Evidence
If you do not know the law in relation to what and how evidence is led, how can you possibly tender a proper and timeous objection? If you don’t get this right you can easily be convicted before you realise the error of your ways.
Mistake 5- Not Personally Checking Out The Arrest Location
Many people donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t visit the arrest location. And this can be crucial. In road traffic offences we often go to the scene with our clients to take relevant photographs and draft diagrams. It makes sense of all the left, right, nearside, offside, middle and don’t knows that we will have to deal with at the trial.
Roadside Tests involving walking a straight line and the like are becoming increasingly used in Scotland. Seeing and knowing the locus allows you to bring better cross examination to court as you can test witnesses on true conditions that existed. e.g. sloping, ill lit roadside that is very busy with traffic…..it may be reasonable not to be walking on the kerb? These things makes it much easier for your lawyer to ask probing questions about the roadside test, and, in some cases, point out a physical impossibility to the Sheriff. We had one case where the police officer admitted that he requested our client to walk a straight line inches away from a dual carriageway. Needless to say the Sheriff wasn’t too impressed by this and threw the case out.
Mistake 6- Not Questioning Subjective Test Procedures
An understanding of the psychological basis for these tests and the methods to be employed when they are applied is essential for proper cross examination of officers. At the very least, the police training document should be studied by you or your lawyer. He or she will then know exactly what questions to ask the arresting officer to see if he completely followed the proper method.
You see, if the manualÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s directions werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t completely followed, the testÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s validity can be attacked. Wherever your lawyer does it, a successful challenge results in the tested evidence being excluded at trial. Which significantly weakens the prosecutors case.
Even more important, officers donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always use objective scoring. The manual explains how to score the tests and how to arrive at a final score. All too often the officer simply subjectively decides whether or not you failed the tests.
WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the point? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s simple: if you or your lawyer doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know the training manual, how can he/she attack the way the arresting officer used it? How can he stop vital prosecution evidence from coming out. It is pretty hard to un-ring a bell.
Mistake 7- Not Explaining The Discount For An Early Plea
Your lawyer should advise you about the sanctions resulting from a conviction as opposed to an early guilty plea. (The Du Plooy case)
Why are these important?
Because they can include a jail sentence, license suspension or revocation, a significant fine, inability to rent a car, substantially higher insurance rates, and loss of your job (particularly if your job involves driving).
And this mistake can happen all to often if your lawyer is rushed or is a duty solicitor with very little time for each client. We have acted as Duty solicitor and we know how tough it is to get through maybe 30 to 40 cases in an afternoon.
You must take these extra penalties into account when deciding to plead guilty. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not aware of these penalties, you cannot help but be the loser.
Mistake 8- The Accused Giving Evidence
Never a good idea for the accused to give evidence in Road Traffic cases. This is primarily because they are not experienced witnesses, often appearing to be nervous or anxious. Police officers often have several years experience of giving evidence and they tend to keep to the same position in their evidence throughout.
Is there ever a good time to put the accused on the stand? Yes, to directly contradict something the officer said. It will also be required where you intend to rely upon the “Hip Flask defence” or post incident drinking defence.
Mistake 9- Attempting To Show The Police Officer Lied
All you really needs to do is show how the officer might simply be mistaken this time. Check the case procedures thoroughly and ensure that all the relevant documents have been lodged to enable you to cross examine on whether the procedures where carried out appropriately. This is where an experienced solicitor is worth his fee!
If he is lying then go head to head with him and get it out but remember that the Sheriff does not want to believe that the officer is lying. Willing to risk his career, his pension, his reputation just to “do” you on a Road Traffic charge But the Sheriff might just accept that the officer/s are mistaken. In my 20 odd years doing this I have never seen an officer break down and admit that he was lying and I suspect I never will
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s far better to simply paint the case as being about an officer who is jumping to conclusions or gilding the lily and making mistakes.
Mistake 10- Not Consulting A Specialist
Defence lawyers who are experts in Road Traffic Law say that someone who isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a specialist should consult one. Just as you wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hire a criminal lawyer to sell your house or deal with your divorce. Would you employ a plumber to hang a door?
Knowing how to defend a Road traffic case case involves considerable preparation, familiarity with the law, and knowing what motions to make and what objections to take.
He or she will quickly be able to spot potential problems and strengths in your case. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll know what the investigation and disclosure should reveal.
If your lawyer is not a specialist in this area, you may not be getting the best advice and you may not have the strongest case.
Hire the best that you can afford. Remember that if you do get banned it may be possible to get your licence back before the end of the period of ban.