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Driving Offences Solicitor on former Olympian’s drink drive ban

By Practice Group Leader, Road Traffic Defence

The Daily Mail online reports that Former Olympian Phillips Idowu claims he had to flee his home from domestic incident while drunk before being caught drink driving.

Drink Driving Solicitor Paul Reddy explains that “Mr Idowu’s lawyer does not seem to have advanced any special reason arguments despite eluding to two potential special reasons, namely a genuine emergency and shortness of distance”

Genuine emergency is sometimes referred to as ‘duress of circumstance’ or ‘necessity’, may only apply in certain, very specific circumstances. In order to be successfully argued before the Courts, the emergency must be a real, genuine emergency. Furthermore it must not be considered to be manufactured, nor should it have been possible to have anticipated its occurrence. Also the defendant must show that he/she had no alternative but to drive and that he/she had explored every reasonable alternative before driving.

Similarly, the special reason of shortness of distance has 7 relevant criteria that must apply for it to be claimed. The three most important are:

  • The distance driven
  • Whether the driver intended to travel further?  
  • The likelihood of coming into contact with other road users or pedestrians?

I suspect the reason that neither of these arguments were advanced is because they are both strict tests to pass in law and therefore, they may not have applied to this situation. Mr Idowu himself states that “there was no incident” and certainly a domestic argument alone would not constitute a genuine emergency.

Equally I see no reason why Mr Idowu couldn’t have walked the distance to the local hotel if it were less than a mile away. However he drove whilst in excess of the prescribed limit, at 9:30am, with the likelihood of encountering other road users and pedestrians being high. All in all, from the limited information that we have, this seems to have been the correct outcome.


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