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Case Study: Drunk in Charge – Case Acquitted

This Case was heard at Stevenage Magistrates Court 

To keep our client’s identity confidential, they will be referred to as ‘Harvey’ for this case study.

Harvey came to us after being charged with drunk in charge, after providing a breath sample of 44ug (the legal limit being 35ug). Harvey explained to us that he had been out for a meal with his friend earlier on in the evening, when they met up with two women. Harvey, his friend and the two women took their conversation out to the car park of the venue for some privacy and fresh air. Whilst outside they opened Harvey’s car door, played dance music and indulged in some alcoholic beverages.

Whilst Harvey owned the vehicle, his friend agreed to be the designated driver for the evening so Harvey could enjoy his evening.

After a short amount of time passed, Harvey and his friend were approached by police officers who breathalysed the pair. Harvey’s friend passed his breathalyser after testing for 0ug of alcohol. Unfortunately, police officers suspected Harvey of being in charge of the vehicle and as he failed his breathalyser, he was subsequently arrested for being drunk in charge. Harvey advised us that at no point did he have the intention of driving home and made arrangements prior for his friend to drive, to ensure a safe and legal means for their journey home. Harvey also explained to us he at no point that evening even had possession of the car key. We advised Harvey of the importance of his friend attending court to substantiate his case.  

We provided Harvey’s Barrister with detailed instruction and his supporting documents.

 Upon arriving at court and reviewing the prosecution’s evidence, Harvey’s barrister has a further in-depth discussion with him and his friend whom was acting as a witness. 

The Magistrates Judges found Harvey NOT GUILTY, based on the following reasons:

  • This was a case where the statutory defence was to be relied upon; we heard about the burden and standard of proof to look for in that, and that it was agreed that Harvey was present, in-charge, and drunk.
  • The different readings, and the timings of them, show there is reason to be sure that he would not have been able to drive again legally until some point the next morning.
  • However, Harvey’s friend was sober, insured, and able and intending to drive. He passed a breath test and proved that he was insured. There was a clear understanding as to which of them would drive home, and that Harvey’s friend would do so, and for that reason we find that Harvey has discharged his burden and we accordingly find him not guilty. 

Following being informed of the Judge’s decision; Harvey’s barrister requested the court grant Harvey a defence cost order – which the court granted instantly. This will allow Harvey to recoup a percentage of his legal costs back from central funds. 

If you have been charged with drunk in charge and are unsure on how to proceed, contact one of our motoring specialists on 0330 912 2124.

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