Nelson Guest client acquitted in drunk in charge case
A Nelson Guest and Partners client has been acquitted of being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. The Defendant had provided a breath sample that was alleged to have exceed the legal limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
He had maintained that he wasn’t drunk at any stage and had not been given any information on the resulting penalty for failing to provide a specimen. He had also maintained that he attended the car to smoke a cigarette on his route home from the pub owing to the cold weather and fell asleep in the process. Even the Prosecution’s account did not suggest that the Defendant had ever driven the vehicle whilst drunk.
After a detailed perusal of the papers the Defence sought a number of items and managed to obtain evidence supporting the Defendant’s version of events including the fact that the custody record had confirmed the possession of a packet of cigarettes.
There was also relevant evidence from his family confirming that local parking levels meant that the vehicle in question was often in the locality of the road in which it had been parked at the time.
Legal arguments ensued, after which the officer conducting the procedure confirmed that he was only “almost certain” that there had been any warning about a failure to provide. The second officer giving evidence confirmed that she “didn’t know what that was” when asked. The Defendant eventually gave evidence as did one of his family members making clear the position.
This resulted in the acquittal of the Defendant without the District Judge even needing to retire to consider a verdict.
The case demonstrates the risk of being charged with being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle – an offence many of the public are not even aware of. Even being with the vehicle with good intentions can result in unnecessary proceedings.