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Failing to provide a specimen

The police have the legal authority to retrieve either a breath, blood or urine sample from you if they have suspicions that you have driven whilst under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Failing to provide a specimen is a crime and you could therefore be prosecuted in court and face a driving ban if you do not adhere to this compulsory request. If you have been summoned to court for failing to provide a specimen, it is in your best interests to seek legal advice at your earliest convenience. At Cartwright King, we will deal with your case from the onset and will defend your case for you in court if necessary.

Failing to provide a specimen and the law

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, the police have the authority to request a specimen from you if they have suspicion that you have been driving whilst being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. This can be given at the roadside or at the police station depending on what type of specimen they require from you.

If you fail to provide a specimen without a reasonable excuse, then you are breaking the law and will face a hearing in court. However, in order for a prosecution for this offence to be successful, you must be warned by a police officer that you could be prosecuted if you fail to provide a sample. If the police fail to do this, then they have not adhered to the correct protocol and the case will therefore be dismissed.

Quite often, you can be charged despite doing your best in providing a specimen. Regardless, if you have been charged with failing to provide a specimen, it is in your best interests to seek legal representation to clear up any discrepancies.

What are reasonable excuses?

A reasonable excuse is a justification as to why a sample was not given to the police, which are mainly medical conditions that are either physical or psychological. If you can provide a suitable reasonable excuse, you should be acquitted of the offence unless the prosecution can prove beyond all reasonable doubt that no such excuse is applicable to your circumstances.
Reasonable excuses can include, but are not limited to:

  • A genuine phobia of needles
  • Stress and/or anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Small lung capacity
  • Prostate problems
  • Chest infection

In order for your reasonable excuse to be successful, it must be supported by a report from a professional who can explain why your mental or physical condition prevented you from supplying a sample. If you do not have any official evidence to back your claim, then your reasonable excuse will be disregarded and you will face sentencing.

What sentence could you face?

The sentence you can receive for failing to provide a specimen would be similar to those given for driving after consuming excess alcohol levels and will take place at the Magistrate’s Court. It is important to note that a prison sentence will be considered if you have committed a second driving offence within the last ten years.

If you are prosecuted with failing to provide a specimen, you could potentially be faced with:

  • A prison sentence of up to 6 months and/or a fine of up to £5,000
  • A minimum driving ban of 12 months
  • A potential community service sentence
  • Higher insurance rates on your vehicle

A strong case could ensure that you do not face these punishments and it is therefore in your best interests that you contact a solicitor who will take the facts and circumstances into account.

How can we help you?

Cartwright King are available to present your case in court and take into consideration all the factors surrounding your circumstances. You can be assured that you will receive the essential, high quality legal advice and representation that our solicitors have to offer.

Why Choose Us?

At Cartwright King, our solicitors understand the stress that being accused of failing to provide a sample can cause and what the potential severe consequences can have on you, your future insurance price and your career. We are available to support you throughout the entire process, explaining the likely outcomes and fight on your behalf.

How to make contact

If you require any legal advice or if you would like a no obligation, free initial telephone discussion, then please call us on 0808 168 5550. Alternatively you can email the Motoring team on and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Our Motoring solicitors can provide advice across the country and are happy to meet at a time and location that suits you. We also have a network of offices in BirminghamBedfordDerbyLeedsLeicesterLondon TempleManchesterMiddlesbroughNorthamptonNottingham and Sheffield.

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