REFUSING A ROADSIDE BREATH TEST
A person who without reasonable excuse fails to cooperate with a preliminary test when required to do so is guilty of an offence.
Road Traffic Act 1988 s6
the ‘preliminary test’ is usually the police roadside breath test and is regarded as an initial screening test to assess whether a driver may be over the prescribed alcohol limit or under the influence of drugs.
A police officer in uniform can request you cooperate with the preliminary test (roadside breath test) if he has reasonable cause to suspect the person is driving, attempting to drive or in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or public place with alcohol or a drug in his body or is under the influence of drugs.
Furthermore, a constable, whether or not in uniform can demand a person cooperate with a preliminary test (roadside breath test) if an accident occurs on a road or other public place and the constable reasonably believes the person to have been driving, attempting to drive or is in charge of a motor vehicle involved in the accident. You should note that the power to request the preliminary test (roadside breath test) in these circumstances actually requires an accident to have taken place.
There can be 2 types of preliminary test that an officer can ask a person to take
- a preliminary breath test
- a preliminary impairment test
The driver will be observed by the officer doing specific tasks for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not the ability to drive is impaired by drink or drugs. This preliminary test can only be done by an officer authorised by the Chief Constable and must be done where the request for the preliminary test is made or at a police station.
- a preliminary drug test. This preliminary test is where an officer requests a specimen of sweat or saliva for a test by an approved device.
You should note that if you fail to take a preliminary test, the police have power of arrest.
You can only be convicted of failing to cooperate with a preliminary test if you do so without ‘reasonable excuse.’ Such an offence can cover several situations where a person has not cooperated with a preliminary test, but usually relate to a defendant being physically or mentally incapable of providing it or to so would entail a substantial risk to his health. The inability to cooperate with a preliminary test, if caused by drink or drugs will not be a defence. If you face prosecution for this traffic offence you need a specialist drink drive lawyer to best represent your interests.
The maximum penalty for failing to cooperate with a preliminary test is a £1000 fine, 4 penalty points endorsed on the driving licence and the court has the power to impose a ban at it’s discretion.
Clearly, if you face a prosecution for failing to cooperate with a preliminary test, your licence could well be in danger. This is a complicated legal area and we advise that you contact us immediately for a clear analysis of the situation.