Day 1: Driving Home for Christmas – Random Stop Checks Over the Festive Period
Statistics show that motorists are 3 times more likely to be breathalysed in December.
In December 2017 alone, 63,600 motorists were stopped and took part in a roadside test.
Here’s everything you need to know to make sure you are fully up to speed with UK law so that you know how to respond if you are pulled over for a test.
The Power to Stop Motorists
The police officers in England and Wales can stop you whilst driving, or riding a motor bike under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
A police officer who stops you under this act must be acting “in execution of their duty”.
If you do not stop, you will be committing a criminal offence.
A police officer may ask you to produce the following documents:
- Your driving licence
- Your full name and address
- The owner of the vehicles’ name and address
- Your certificate of insurance
- A valid MOT certificate
If you do not have any of these documents available, the police officer should grant you a period of seven days to take the documents into your local police station. A failure to do so will result in you committing a criminal offence.
The police can stop and breathalyse you if:
- You have been drinking or taking drugs
- You have committed a traffic offence
- You have been involved in an accident
If the police officer thinks that you are under the influence of alcohol and drugs, the police officer may further ask you to:
- Take a drug test
- Do a physical test, for example walk in a straight line.
If the breath test gives a result straight away and you are not over the limit, you may be allowed to go. However, you should be aware that police officers can issue an on the spot, fixed penalty notice for a variety of minor offences. These include; neglecting traffic regulations, neglecting pedestrian rights and vehicle registration and licence offences.
If the police officer suspects that you have committed a more serious offence, then you must be cautioned before they speak with you so you are aware that whatever you say may be used as evidence. At this stage, you are entitled to obtain legal advice.
What to do if you are breathalysed?
- Stay in your car and wind the window down to communicate with the police officer. You should only remove yourself from your vehicle if the police officer asks you to.
- Provide the police officer with your name, address and confirm whether or not you own the vehicle. If you do not own the vehicle, provide details of the individual that does.
- If available, show the police officer your driving licence and details around your car insurance.
- Do not refuse to take the test. The process is not involuntary. Refusing to take the test can result in you committing a criminal offence of failing to provide.
- Do not say that you have been drinking if asked. If you have not been drinking, inform the police officer of this. If you have been drinking, you should inform the officer that you would “rather not say” or do not answer the question.
- Do not inform the officer of any details regarding your journey. You should respond with, “I’d rather not say” or not answer the question.
- Do not insist on a blood or urine test. In some circumstances, the police may be required to take a blood and urine test from you. It is up to police officer to decide what test they require you to take. Refusing to take a breath test but consenting to a blood test will still result in you failing to provide a breath test and you will be committing a criminal offence. If you have a genuine medical reason that excludes you from taking a breath test, politely inform the officer of this. You should note that may need to provide medical evidence to support this.
- Ask clarification questions about the process, if you are unsure what is being requested of you.
- Stay calm, a stop and search does not mean that you are or will be arrested. Calm and compliant behaviour will result in a quick search and hopefully a positive and clear resolution.
What to do if you test positive?
- You will not be able to drive your car until you are sober. You are entitled to ask
for someone else to collect your car from you.
- You will be taken to a police station and asked to complete a final breath test. If
it is positive you will be charged.
- You will be entitled to legal advice from a lawyer and you must insist that you
receive this before being interviewed.
Do not agree to a recorded interview without a lawyer present.