Driving offences

Failure to provide a specimen

Section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 says that you’re required to provide a specimen of breath at the roadside, and breath, blood or urine at the Police station or a hospital if requested to do so. Failure to do so is a more serious offence than providing a specimen that shows you to be over the limit. Use our online tool to get immediate legal advice.

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Is failing to provide a specimen an offence?

If the Police have reason to believe that you’re driving with excess alcohol in your blood or under the influence of drugs, they’re legally entitled to request an evidential specimen at the roadside, at the Police station or a hospital.

It’s therefore an offence to refuse to provide a specimen if requested to do so by a Police officer. Such a refusal can lead to three possible offences:

  • Failure to participate in a preliminary test: Where you refuse a breathalyser or ‘drugalyser’ roadside test. This can lead to licence disqualification and a fine of up to £1,000.
  • Failure to provide an evidential specimen: If you’re arrested on suspicion of drug or drink driving, you’ll be asked to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine at the Police station or at a hospital. Refusing to do so may result in disqualification, an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison.
  • Failure to give permission for a laboratory blood test: If you’ve given a blood sample at the Police station, or a sample has been taken in hospital following an accident, the Police must ask for your permission for this to be tested. If you refuse permission, you risk the same penalties as if you had refused to provide a specimen in the first place.

If you’ve been charged with any of these offences, it’s essential to seek expert legal advice and representation immediately.

Successful defences to these charges are possible under certain circumstances, but time is of the essence, as court appearances usually follow hard on the heels of all these charges.

Call us now on 0330 041 5869 or contact us and we’ll call you.

What defence is there to failure to provide a specimen?

As previously noted, the courts take a dim view of these offences and tend to hand down more severe penalties than if you had simply agreed to provide a specimen and then failed the test due to a high alcohol reading.

There are a number of valid defences, largely based on procedural failings by the Police. These include scenarios where:

  • The Police were conducting random breath tests: This is common practice, particularly early in the morning of Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. The Police are not empowered to undertake random testing and should only ask you to provide a specimen if they’ve some concrete reason to suspect that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • The Police officer concerned failed to inform you of your rights: Police procedure demands that you’re asked several questions and receive all relevant warnings and information before and after being asked to provide an evidential specimen.
  • You suffer from a relevant medical condition or phobia: Certain medical conditions may prevent you from using a breathalyser successfully and prostate problems may preclude you from giving a urine sample. Some people also suffer from a verifiable phobia of needles that could prohibit you from giving a blood sample.

These are just three of the scenarios that can lead to a successful defence against charges of failure to provide a specimen.

Every case is different and in the event that you’ve been charged with this offence - or with drink or drug driving – it’s always a good idea to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced road traffic solicitor before you attend court.

To speak to an experienced solicitor, call us 24/7 on 0330 041 5869 or contact us online and we’ll call you back.

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