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The Wasp
Mr Raccoon

Philip Hammond removes the right to independent evidence testing in drink drive cases.

An interesting report from The Telegraph on the results of the governments review of drink driving legislation which removes a suspects rights to independent verification of their positive breath test :

Drink drivers lose right to demand blood tests

Motorists who are marginally over the limit are to lose the right to demand a blood test under the biggest changes to drink-drive law in over 40 years.

Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, is to plug a loophole which enables motorists to sober up while police find a doctor or nurse to carry out the test.

Quite why The Telegraph choose to describe the blood test option as a loophole is beyond me, other than it probably reflects the official press release although that would just be me just being overly cynical lately.

Or perhaps not (and I wrote the above before looking) :

On drink driving the Government will:

revoke the right for people whose evidential breath test result is less than 40% over the limit to opt for a blood test (the ‘statutory option’). The breath testing equipment used in police stations is now very accurate and technically sophisticated so a blood sample is not needed to confirm the breath test. The need to organise a blood sample can mean that drivers who were over the limit when breath tested have fallen below the limit by the time their blood sample is taken – removing the statutory option will eliminate this loophole.

One ministers “loophole” being an innocent parties right to have the evidence independently verified of course.

Not that the government is concerned with justice being done but rather to make up some scary round numbers to justify this attack on basic safeguards :

Scrapping the right to demand a blood test is seen as a vital tool in preventing motorists trying to play for time in the hope that some of the alcohol will have disappeared from their bloodstream.

The Department for Transport estimates this alone could lead to 5,000 more drink drive convictions a year.

For now, people tested at the roadside will still be tested again on their arrival at the police station which gives some protection from faulty roadside testing machinery but our brave Mr Hammond is not satisfied and wants to go further :

Initially the change will mean that drivers will have to take a breath test on their arrival at the police station, the results of which can be used in court.

But the Government will tighten the law still further by introducing machines which will allow evidential breath tests to take place at the roadside.

He won’t be happy until the roadside machine prints out the court judgement and fine – go directly to jail, do not bother the justice system (they are busy pissing around with third party claims of harassment alarm and distress to bother).

Putting all sarcasm to one side for a moment, the current situation appears to be that the police are not very well organised when it comes to getting a blood test taken and the resulting delay means some people blowing close to the limit “get away” with their offence

I do not believe that the correct fix for this is to ban the blood test option as they provide a sample source which can be independently tested by the accused party at their own expense as part of their defence in cases where machine accuracy is in question.

Given the governments alarming belief in the infallibility of technology I see this move as clearing the path for prosecutions to be shovelled through the system with few safeguards in cases where roadside machines are defective.

Will the new roadside only machines be regularly tested for example to verify accuracy?

Will the copper responsible report the fact that he bounced the machine on the car park floor when loading his vehicle that morning?

Will the machine that took the test actually be identifiable if the result is questioned in court or will that right be removed as well? Currently, its rather difficult to remove a half ton station machine but who knows where the roadside unit will have disappeared to by the time you are up in front of the beak.

For a government supposedly wanting to preserve our freedoms and roll back the dead hand of the state from our lives, this latest piece of judicial streamlining fits with neither in my opinion.

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3 comments to Philip Hammond removes the right to independent evidence testing in drink drive cases.

  • Fred Delahunty

    Philip Hammond…….

    It am surprised that Philip Hammond has closed this loophole because last year Mr John Furey, the Leader of Runnymede Borough Council(Philip Hammond’s constituency)crashed his car into a stationary vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol, he then fled the scene only to be arrested further along the road. He got the usual fine for being over the limit, but remains the Leader of Runnymede Borough Council. Well done Phil!

    TRUE STORY – just Google it

  • Wasp

    Some other comedian Bill. I doubt he gets many repeat bookings although sales of rotten fruit do increase by 200% when he makes an appearance.

  • Phil Hammond? This Phil Hammond or are we talking about some other comedian?