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Drink Driving

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The police have a general power to stop any vehicle on the road under Section 163 RTA 1988. But they don’t have the power to conduct random roadside tests. To test you for alcohol or drug consumption, they need to have ‘reasonable cause’ to suspect you’ve committed a drink driving or drug driving offence.

An officer will have reasonable cause if:

You commit a moving traffic offence (like jumping a red light or driving erratically)You’re involved in an accidentYou’re showing signs of intoxication (like glazed eyes or slurred speech)They can see, either by sight or smell, that you have alcohol or drugs on youYou admit you’ve consumed alcohol or drugs

If an officer has reasonable cause, they can ask you to give a preliminary specimen (breath test or saliva test) – or arrest you immediately under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (driving whilst unfit). The purpose of the arrest is to get a more accurate specimen from you at the police station.

Many police forces hold random stop checks (sometimes called a 'document check'), which sometimes leads to arresting a person for drink or drug driving. In this case, if the officer can’t later prove they had reasonable cause to test (or arrest) you for drink driving or drug driving, this would make your arrest unlawful.

It’s also worth noting that the officer asking you to do a roadside test must be in full police uniform.

If your legal representative can find fault with any part of the police procedure, the case against you will probably fail – and you’ll avoid a disqualification or criminal conviction.