What to expect during a roadside drug test

As described in our article on “are random drink or drug tests legal”, you can be asked to undergo a roadside drug test if either:

  • The officer reasonably suspects you’ve consumed drugs;
  • The officer reasonably suspects you’ve committed a motoring offence;
  • You’ve been involved in an accident;

If you’ve never done drugs, or haven’t for several months, then being asked to undergo a roadside drug test should cause you no concern. However, recent use of drugs, sometimes as long as two or three days ago could result in a positive test, ultimately ending in a disqualification from driving unless a defence can be identified.

What happens during a roadside drug test?

You’d usually be asked to circle the inside of your mouth with your tongue three times. Once you’ve worked up enough saliva, the officer will use the sample collector to wipe saliva from your tongue.  The sample pads usually change colour indicating that the sample has been successfully collected.

The police officer would then place the sample collector back into the test cassette and click it back into place. The officer then holds the device vertically with the blue section at the top and presses until the sealed section of the capsule breaks. The police officer should continue to hold the device vertically for another ten seconds.

After obtaining the sample, the officer should leave the test undisturbed on a horizontal surface and read the test result after 8 minutes.

If a red line appears, even if it is very faint, then the test is positive, and you’ll be taken to the police station for an evidential blood test to establish the quantity of drugs that are in your system.

What the police should NOT do during a roadside drug test procedure

  • Don’t use the test if the expiration date has been exceeded;
  • Don’t use the test if the packaging is damaged;
  • Don’t use the test if the package contains any moisture;
  • Don’t use the test if the control line already appears red on opening the packet;
  • Don’t store the test at extremes of temperature such as extreme heat or frost;
  • Don’t open the test until shortly before intending to swab the driver.

If you’ve been subjected to a roadside drug test and you think the police have failed to follow the above guidelines, please contact a member of our legal team as soon as possible on 0330 33 22 770. There are numerous defences to drug driving, whether the police have breached procedure at the roadside, police station or hospital. It may not always be obvious that the police have made a mistake, so it’s vital to gain expert opinion on whether you have a case to fight. It could make the difference between walking away from Court with your licence intact or facing a minimum twelve-month ban from driving and a criminal record.

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Article written by Alison Ashworth, Specialist drink and drug driving solicitor and Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law. Alison has a first-class honours degree in law and has appeared on various TV and Radio programs to discuss drink and drug driving. Widely considered the “go-to” expert in the field of motoring law, Alison has outstanding rates of securing not guilty verdicts in cases involving drink and drug driving. If you would like Alison to personally look into your case, please call our advice line on 0330 33 22 770 and ask to be transferred directly to her.

What to expect during a roadside breath test?

As described in our article on “are random drink or drug tests legal”, you can be asked to undergo a roadside breath test if either:

  • The officer reasonably suspects you’ve consumed alcohol;
  • The officer reasonably suspects you’ve committed a motoring offence;
  • You’ve been involved in an accident.

There are currently fifteen, home office approved roadside breath testing kits in use on Britain’s roads. The below are the instructions that are typical to most devices in use today.

What should happen during a roadside breath test?

You should be asked when your last drink was. The police officer should wait at least 20 minutes before conducting the roadside breath test after your last drink. Officers typically wait 2-5 minutes after your last cigarette.

The officer should attach a fresh mouthpiece to the breathalyser and should explain the test to you. The officer should instruct you to fill your lungs and blow in one continuous breath through the mouthpiece.

In some cases, you’d have to blow strongly enough to bring on light A, and long enough to bring on light B. If you fail to bring on light B then you’d be deemed to have provided an unsatisfactory sample. In other cases, you’d need to cause the machine to create a continuous beep whilst blowing and would have to stop once you hear a double beep. It all depends which type of device you blow into.

In under a minute, the officer will take the reading from the machine.

A green light, or the words “Zero” or “Pass” means you’ve hardly got any alcohol in your system and you’ve passed the test. You can go on your way.

An amber light, or the word “Warn” means you’ve got more alcohol in your system, but you’ve passed the test. You’ve been lucky and should go on your way.

A red light, or the word “Fail” is bad news. You’re over the limit and will be taken to the police station for evidential testing.

The do’s and don’ts of roadside breath tests that the police should adhere to:

Your knowledge of these procedures could help you establish whether the police have breached procedure, and whether or not the roadside breath test result can be challenged by your legal team.

Do:

  • Ensure that it has been at least twenty minutes since the driver’s last drink before performing a roadside breath test;
  • Allow at least two minutes since the driver’s last cigarette before performing a roadside breath test;
  • Use a new mouthpiece for every test;
  • Ensure that a “ready check” is obtained before performing the breath test;

Don’t:

  • Allow the driver to hold the breathalyser device themselves;
  • Allow tobacco smoke to be blown into the mouthpiece;
  • Store the breathalyser device in an environment that is too hot or too cold;
  • Don’t subject the machine to severe mechanical shock (e.g. throwing it on the ground).

If you’ve been subjected to a breath test and you think the police have failed to follow the above guidelines, please contact a member of our legal team as soon as possible on 0330 33 22 770. There are numerous defences to drink driving, whether the police have breached procedure at the roadside, police station or hospital. It may not always be obvious that the police have made a mistake, so it’s vital to gain expert opinion on whether you have a case to fight. It could make the difference between walking away from Court with your licence intact or facing a minimum twelve-month ban from driving and a criminal record.

Found this information useful? Share it with a friend!

Article written by Alison Ashworth, Specialist drink and drug driving solicitor and Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law. Alison has a first-class honours degree in law and has appeared on various TV and Radio programs to discuss drink and drug driving. Widely considered the “go-to” expert in the field of motoring law, Alison has outstanding rates of securing not guilty verdicts in cases involving drink and drug driving. If you would like Alison to personally look into your case, please call our advice line on 0330 33 22 770 and ask to be transferred directly to her.

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Are random breath tests or drug tests legal?

Photograph of random police stop

It’s official, the Christmas crackdown on drink and drug drivers has begun. This time of year sees hundreds of unsuspecting motorists caught with too much alcohol or drugs in their system after a random stop by police. But are random breath tests and random drug tests legal?

We could all be stopped in the run up to Christmas, and what happens next could determine whether or not you spend the next few hours in a cell, and ultimately, whether you lose your driving licence. What are your rights? What are you compelled to do? How can you avoid being arrested? This article seeks to help address all of these questions.

Can the police stop you at random?

Yes. The law gives the police a general power to stop a vehicle under Section 163 Road Traffic Act 1988. The police can, at random, stop any vehicle without any particular reason.

Can the police make you take a roadside breath test or a drug test at random?

No. Whilst you can be stopped at random by a police officer, they cannot require you take a roadside drink or drugs test without first having reasonable cause to suspect the you, the driver, of having consumed alcohol or committing a traffic offence when the vehicle was moving. If for example the officer asks you “when was the last time you drank alcohol/ took drugs” and you answer “Dinner time today” this may give rise to a suspicion that you are under the influence, in which case a roadside specimen can be requested from you. Failing or refusing the test would then lead to you being arrested and taken to the police station for evidential testing.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. An exception exists where there has been an accident. A police officer can ask you to take a roadside drink or drug test where they reasonably believe that you were driving or in charge of a vehicle that has been involved in an accident, whether or not another vehicle was involved.

Can you refuse to take a roadside breath test or drug swab?

Not without a reasonable excuse. Failing to take a roadside test without reasonable excuse is an offence which will result in you being brought to the police station for evidential testing in much the same way that a positive test would have done.

Summary

The police can randomly stop your vehicle; however they need reasonable cause to require you to participate in a roadside breath test or drug swab. If you don’t give the officer any reason to believe you may be under the influence, they cannot require you to participate in the test. Keep in mind that over the Christmas period, forces up and down the country are conducting random stops on motorists, and many drivers are ultimately charged with drink driving or drug driving as a result of these random stops.

Our best advice is common sense; make alternative arrangements to return home after a night’s indulgences and do not drive until you are certain you are fit to do so. Bear in mind that this could be well into the afternoon the following day for alcohol, or even several days later in the case of drugs, such as cocaine.

What if I’ve already been pulled for drink driving or drug driving?

If you’ve already been arrested for drink or drug driving and need advice on what happens next, feel free to contact our free legal advice line on 0330 33 22 770. One of our specialist drink or drug drive lawyers will listen to the details of your case, advise on your options and let you know the best course of action. Whether you need to minimise the effects of a ban or fight the conviction altogether, rest assured we can help.

Found this information useful? Share it with a friend!

Article written by Alison Ashworth, Specialist drink and drug driving solicitor and Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law. Alison has a first-class honours degree in law and has appeared on various TV and Radio programs to discuss drink and drug driving. Widely considered the “go-to” expert in the field of motoring law, Alison has outstanding rates of securing not guilty verdicts in cases involving drink and drug driving. If you would like Alison to personally look into your case, please call our advice line on 0330 33 22 770 and ask to be transferred directly to her.

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Solicitors firm warns drivers to check their tyres or face prosecution

National Law Firm, Ashworth Motoring Law is running a campaign to raise awareness of tyre safety and highlight the dangers of driving on defective tyres. The campaign backs national tyre safety month which runs throughout October.

Ashworth Motoring Law, which specialises in representing drivers who are facing the possible loss of their driving licence is reminding drivers to check their tyres or face prosecution or an accident.

The campaign follows figures released by TyreSafe which show that over one in four cars and vans are driven on Britain’s roads with illegal and dangerous tyres.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, 2.2 million cars fail the MoT due to tyre-related defects, and figures from the highways agency indicate that an annual average of 1135 casualties are caused by tyre-related incidents with 198 of those incidents resulting in serious injury or death.

Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law, Alison Ashworth said “Driving on defective tyres is extremely dangerous and risks lives. Many drivers forget to perform basic checks, taking for granted that their tyres are safe. Being caught with defective tyres would result in a fine of up to £2500 and three penalty points per tyre. A person could ‘tot-up’ 12 points and face a 6-month driving ban if all of their tyres were defective”.

The legal tread depth is 1.6mm and can be checked by inserting a 20p into the tyre’s tread groove and assessing whether the outer rim can be seen. The condition and pressure of tyres should also be checked on a regular basis.

Alison, who regularly appears on TV and on the Radio discussing motoring law related issues continued “Now that the seasons are changing, it’s crucial to ensure that our tyres are safe and ready for the harsh conditions of winter. We are advising drivers, ‘don’t chance it, check it’.”

In support of tyre safety month, many local retailers are offering a free tyre health check throughout October in an attempt to get illegal and dangerous tyres off the road. To find a local dealer offering a free tyre health check visit tyresafe.org.

For more information, or to contact Ashworth Motoring Law in relation to a motoring law issue, call the local rate helpline on 0330 22 770, email enquiries@ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk or visit ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk.

dont-chance-it-check-it

 

How to drive on snow

Driving on snow can be very dangerous, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.

We’ve put together some tips for best practice when driving on snow to give you the best chance of reaching your destination safely.

Pre-journey check list for driving on snow:

  • Check your tyres.

Do they have adequate tread? You need at least 2mm but ideally 3mm for driving on snow.  If your tyre tread is below 1.6mm then your tyres are illegal and need to be replaced. It’s 3 penalty points per tyre if you fail to meet the basic legal standard.  Don’t be tempted to reduce your tyre pressure for more grip; doing this will only reduce stability.

  • Check your wipers.

Turn any automatic wiper function off before turning the engine on. The wiper control fuse could blow if the wipers are frozen to the screen

  • Check you’ve got everything you need.

Warm clothes, de-icer, ice scraper, de-mister, a shovel, a torch, phone charger, and if possible, a square of old carpet for under your wheels for traction if you get stuck in the snow.  This is your basic back-up kit for driving on snow.

  • Check you can see properly before setting off.

Fully clear the windscreen and mirrors before setting off. Use lukewarm water or de-icer. Never use boiling water! It can crack the windscreen. It’s 3 penalty points on your driving licence for not being in proper control of your vehicle if you have an obstructed view of the road ahead.

  • Check others can see you before setting off.

Clear excess snow off the top of your vehicle, lights and number plates before setting off. You could get 3-9 penalty points for careless or inconsiderate driving if the snow falls into the path of another road user during your journey.

How to drive on snow

 

Setting off:

  • Use second gear to pull away. Ease your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel spin.
  • Accelerate gently, using low revs.
  • Change up to a higher gear as soon as possible

On the road:

  • Leave plenty of room (ten times the usual distance) between your vehicle and the car in front. The car in front might skid and you need to be able to avoid it.
  • Avoid roads which you know are unlikely to have been gritted.
  • Be cautious of driving in other vehicle’s tracks if the road hasn’t been gritted. The snow could be more compressed and therefore icier than fresh snow.
  • Try to wait until any steep hills are clear of moving traffic before you attempt it.
  • Keep a constant speed if possible.
  • Try to use a lower gear to slow down and avoid using the brakes if you can.
  • If you have to use the brakes, apply them very gently.
  • If you skid, steer gently into it. Never take your hands off the steering wheel and don’t be tempted to hit the brakes hard. This will make things worse. If the rear of the car is sliding to the left, steer gently to the left. If It’s sliding to the right, steer gently to the right.

If you get stuck in the snow:

  • Straighten the steering.
  • Clear as much snow as possible from the wheels.
  • Try and put something in front of the wheels for grip.
  • Don’t stop until you’re on firmer ground.

If all of the above looks like too much hassle, and your journey really isn’t that important then pop the fire on, grab a cup of tea and declare it a snow day. Nothing is more important than your safety.

Hot chocolate snow day
Article written by Expert Motoring Law Solicitor Alison Ashworth; Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law.

Alison Ashworth; Expert motoring lawyer and Director of www.ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk

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Ashworth Motoring Law are experts in defending driving offences such as careless driving, speeding and drink driving. If you have been accused of committing a motoring offence and would like to speak to a specialist motoring law solicitor, call our free advice line on 0330 33 22 770 for free initial legal advice. Lines are open round the clock so get in touch whenever’s best for you.

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