Timely advice on the drink driving laws from Jeanette Miller, solicitor

Timely advice on the drink driving laws
Jeanette Miller, Senior Partner of Geoffrey Miller Solicitors

With the festive season upon us, the subject of drink driving is more of a hot topic than ever. However, it will probably also be the subject of debate amongst lawyers like me who specialize in drink driving law, due to the imminent closure of a government consultation to change the procedures involved in drink driving cases.

According to the government, we have a significant problem with the drink driving culture in this country. A whole host of (expensive) law changes to remove the “loopholes” that allow so many offenders avoid conviction are being proposed.

There are many issues that are, in my view, cause for concern but perhaps the most serious for the motorist are:

The proposed abolition of Blood or Urine Tests In Borderline Cases (The statutory option)

When arrested for drink driving, motorists are ordinarily taken to a police station to provide an evidential breath sample. Currently the roadside reading taken by the police is not treated as evidence to be used in court but is purely used as a trigger to arrest a driver on suspicion of drink driving.

When at the police station the motorist will usually be asked to provide two further breath tests on a Home Office Type Approved Device and the lower of the two readings at the police station is used in evidence against the driver.

The legal limit in England, Wales and Scotland is presently 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 mls of breath which equates to 80mg of alcohol in 100 mls of blood. (Most European countries including Ireland have a lower limit of 50 mg.)

Once the evidential breath test has been performed, if the lower of two readings is above 50 microgrammes, they will simply be charged with the offence of drink driving.

If the lower of the two readings is 39 or less, the police have discretion to allow a suspect to be released without charge.

However, if the reading is 36-50 microgrammes there is currently a legal requirement for the police to offer an option of replacing the breath reading with a blood or urine test.
When the breath test reading is this low it is considered borderline and for the sake of fairness, the suspect can have the option of electing for their breath reading to be replaced by either a blood sample or a urine sample.

The proposals currently being considered would abolish this process. It has been suggested by the government that by allowing the detained motorist the option of a more accurate reading, there is a loophole capable of being exploited in as much as the delay in arranging for a doctor or nurse to get to the police station to take the blood sample often means the suspect has fallen below the limit by the time their blood is taken.

Changing the evidential status of the roadside (preliminary) breath test

Under present law, if a police officer stops a motorist they can only request a breath test be provided in certain circumstances. The roadside sample is a preliminary sample used only for the purpose of establishing if the motorist should be arrested or not. The roadside breath test is often simply a “pass” or “fail” with no numerical value and is currently not used in evidence against a motorist. Instead, the roadside test is the trigger to allow the police to insist on an evidential test being performed at the police station.

However, the proposals seek to suggest that roadside tests be used in place of the police station tests. The government’s justification for this being to cut down the time it takes to transport a suspect to a police station and go through the procedures etc.

Whilst I can see the definite benefits of this from a resources perspective, again, this would, in my view, mean motorists were wide open to miscarriages of justice. When a suspect is taken to the police station, supposedly more accurate breath testing devices are used and there are a number of safeguards in place to protect the motorist. Stringent procedures must be followed in the formal setting of a police station often with CCTV recording the process. In the wake of the Hillsborough scandal, removing this safeguard and allowing officers to conduct evidential tests at the roadside, is a dangerous move.

There are other less controversial proposals relaxing the rules on who can take blood samples from suspects who have been hospitalized and who can perform impairment tests.

Drink Drivers Deserve What’s Coming To Them – Who Cares?

I am sure most people reading this blog will have strong views against motorists convicted of drink driving. Most of my clients share those views and never expect to be over the limit when they are stopped. Investing in education as opposed to slashing the budget for anti-drink driving campaigns would be a far better use of taxpayers’ funds. Streamlining the process will criminalise a significant number of otherwise law abiding motorists – Hardly a real solution in my view.

The government’s consultation is open for responses until 02 January 2013.

Jeanette Miller is the Senior Partner of Geoffrey Miller Solicitors, proudly supporting Charon QC UK Law Tour

Guest Post: Avoiding personal injury over Christmas

Avoiding personal injury over Christmas
Laura Wright

Christmas is approaching fast, and for many of us this means having time off work and the opportunity to let our hair down and celebrate. Combine the festivities with the longer nights and stress of dealing with busy shops and roads at this time of year, and it is unsurprising that accidents are at their peak.

If you are involved in accident over Christmas, whether it is on the road, at work or even on the street. If the accident was not your fault, you can claim compensation for any financial deficit you incur. For assistance with your personal injury claim, consult with specialist injury solicitors to ensure your case has the best chance of being successful.

The roads become especially dangerous this time of year. Icy and slippery conditions, or potentially intoxicated road users means extra care must be taken to avoid accidents on the road. If the roads become torturous this winter, be sure to take your time and fit extra-grip tyres to your vehicle to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident. Road accidents could potentially happen to anyone, whether in a car, on a bike or as an unfortunate pedestrian in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Having an accident this time of year will certainly be stressful to say the least during the festive period. It is always better to not be in a situation where an accident is likely to occur, however you do not want to miss out on any public gatherings and festivities that you plan to attend. Accidents in public are commonplace and slips and trips are the most common accidents in public places and events. In order to avoid such accidents, be aware of the surroundings and do not take any unnecessary risks.

In the event you are injured, it is important to secure hard evidence of your injury in that location. If you are injured in a quiet street for instance, there may be no witnesses to back your claim. In this case, you will need other evidence to support your case such as photographic evidence of an offending item that caused your injury.

Avoiding any kind of injury is what we all hope for but if it does occur, be sure to claim for accident compensation to at least avoid the financial anguish that will be brought upon yourself and your family this season.

Guest post: Aviation Law – understanding the fast paced industry

Aviation Law – understanding the fast paced industry
ASB Law

Aviation lawyers work within one of the most complex and fast paced industries. As the industry continually develops, the law and regulations governing aviation law have to change and adapt. Due to the increasing regulatory demands on businesses within the aviation industry, as well as the numerous issues faced by all businesses, it is essential that aviation companies seek advice from experienced aviation lawyers who can provide the appropriate advice and assistance.

There are numerous types of businesses which rely on the advice of aviation lawyers. These range from travel companies to airlines and airports as well as private charter companies and fleet owners. The complexity of aviation law means that aviation lawyers often specialise in niche areas in order to provide effective legal and commercial advice from drafting and negotiating contracts to facilitating businesses transactions..

Although businesses often engage the services of aviation lawyers to facilitate business transactions, businesses also require aviation lawyers to assist them when disputes arise. If, for example, a company purchases an aircraft component and finds the quality is not as agreed, then they may require a specialist in aviation law to assist in remedying the situation. Enforcing the terms of a contract or defending a company when disputes occur requires specific legal knowledge as well as in-depth knowledge of the industry so clients are generally advised to seek the services of an experienced aviation lawyer.

Due to the nature of the industry, many business transactions are multi-jurisdictional. Aviation lawyers are aware of the international nature of the industry and how this affects the business both commercially and legally. For example, different jurisdictions may have varying regulatory requirements which must be adhered to. In addition to having legal knowledge and being aware of key industry issues, aviation lawyers also understand how laws and regulations in other jurisdictions may impact their clients are able to provide appropriate business and legal advice.

As well as facing sector specific issues, businesses within the aviation industry also face similar issues to other businesses. They often require legal advice and assistance regarding issues such as employment and avoiding employment relate disputes in addition to other commercial advice. Experienced aviation lawyers can assist companies with hiring an effective workforce and providing the appropriate documentation to meet their legal obligations. Aviation lawyers can also provide advice regarding appropriate business structure and whether corporate restructuring would enable a business to fulfil its commercial objectives. The wealth of knowledge aviation lawyers have enables them to provide specialist advice regarding aviation law as well as assist businesses in finding solutions to complex commercial issues. By engaging with specialist aviation lawyers, companies operating within the aviation industry can ensure they are operating legally and that they are fulfilling their regulatory obligations as well as maximising their success within the industry.

ASB Law’s aviation lawyers are passionate about anything to do with aircraft, engines and aviation. Whether you are buying, selling or leasing aircraft (commercial or corporate jets), aircraft engines or components ASB’s aviation lawyers provide specialist, practical legal advice.

ASB Law can deliver:

practical solutions beyond just legal advice
advice backed by a genuine passion and knowledge of the aviation industry
specialist legal advice on every aspect of aviation asset management
high quality, cost-effective service

For more information and advice, please visit ASB Law