The case of Dean Saunders illustrates the dangers in assuming that you will not go to prison for an offence of failing to provide a breath specimen.
The sentencing guidelines for this offence, like most other offences, will put you into a category for determining sentence. Category 1 being the worst.
For category 1 to apply it means that there must be higher culpability and greater harm. The guideline tells the court to determine the offender’s culpability and the harm caused with reference only to the following factors :
Higher Culpability : Deliberate refusal/failure
Greater Harm : High Level of impairment
When technical arguments designed to defeat the prosecution fail and a conviction follows, the court has to assess the case based on the evidence and the sentencing guideline before handing out a sentence. Part of the evidence which appears to have played a large part in determining the sentence consisted of body-cam footage of the arrest and booking in process at the police station. This has been published widely in the media for example :
The district judge remarked as part of his sentence:
“Throughout these proceedings you have shown yourself to be arrogant, thinking you are someone whose previous and current role in the public eye entitles you to be above the law. In fact the opposite is true – someone in the public eye should expect a deterrent sentence when they flout the law.”
“Your driving came to the attention of police officers. You very nearly caused a serious accident.They were seriously concerned you may cause an accident. You were stopped and failed to provide a breath specimen and continued with this obstructive and evasive conduct at the police station.”
The judge also referred to the body cam-footage stating that he did not accept that Saunders was confused and that he consistently refused to cooperate. He referred to the body-cam footage as overwhelming evidence and that despite this Saunders had only changed his plea at a very late date.
If you face an allegation of failing to provide don’t be like Dean. By all means request to speak to a solicitor but do not refuse to provide the specimen because the law is very clear on the point that only a very short delay will be permitted to have the opportunity to speak to a solicitor.
When charged and released from the police station take advice at an early stage from a good solicitor who will know how best to prepare your case. By doing so you maximise the risk of avoiding a prison sentence even if you are a category 1 case.
Rose & Dunn are specialist criminal defence and motoring law solicitors and higher courts advocates. We can be contacted at any time of day or night. If you need emergency police station assistance contact us using any of the methods below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
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