Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Clarke Carlisle charged with a drink driving offence

Clarke Carlisle, former Burnley, QPR, Leeds and Northampton player
has been charged with a drink driving offence
It has been reported that Clarke Carlisle, the former chairman of the Professional Footballers Association has been charged with failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis by the Metropolitan Police.  He is due to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on the 20th January 2015, although he is currently seriously injured in hospital following a collision with a lorry that was unrelated to the allegation of drink driving.

Since it’s in the news, this seems like an opportunity to explain what failing to provide a specimen is all about.  It goes without saying that none of what follows relates to Clarke Carlisle’s case since we would never discuss an individual case prior to trial when the full facts are not known.

Most people I speak to have the idea that failing to provide isn’t a serious offence – I hear a lot of people saying, “oh but failing to provide isn’t as serious as drink driving”.  If you’ve been charged with failing to provide then the bad news is that it is a serious offence, even more serious than drink driving itself.

Why is it so serious?  Well the simple reason is that if you could get away with drink driving by refusing to provide a specimen then everybody would refuse to provide!  I’m told that in Texas there is no equivalent offence so drivers routinely refuse to provide and are allowed to go on their way; how true that is though I’ve no idea.

Because the courts treat failing to provide more seriously than drink driving it is easy to find yourself facing a prison sentence, which makes getting an expert drink driving solicitor even more important.  Prison becomes a real likelihood (even for a first time offender) if the court decides that you deliberately failed or refused to provide and that you were seriously intoxicated at the time.  This can be a problem for a lot of people because often the reason they fail to provide is because they were drunk in the first place.

The police can require you to provide a specimen of breath if they were conducting a genuine investigation into a drink driving offence.  This means that if you can show they were not investigating such an offence then you will have a defence.  So, if it were impossible for you to drive the vehicle and the police knew that then you may be able to argue that their investigation had concluded upon discovering it was impossible for you to drink drive and therefore they had no power to require a specimen of breath.

Far more common are medical excuses for your failure, such as asthma or some other condition that left you unable to comply with the procedure.  It’s worth remembering that if you can be too drunk to provide and that is a medical excuse!  I have won cases by arguing that my client was physically incapable of providing through being too drunk.  If you are considering running with this type of defence you MUST take expert legal advice from a specialist drink driving solicitor; it’s easy to make things far worse for yourself and a decent amount of the work we do every year is advising people who went it alone or chose the wrong solicitor.

I know that Mr Carlisle’s family will be far more worried about him than any drink driving case at the moment and everyone here at the London Drink Driving Solicitor wishes him a speedy recovery.

If, like Mr Carlisle, you have been accused of failing to provide a specimen of breath (or blood or urine) then you can get expert legal advice from the London Drink Driving Solicitor and by calling 020 8242 4440.

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