We get a lot of difficult cases here, in terms of the technical difficulties involved but also because the story behind them can be so sad.
A recent case had both of these.
A client was charged with drink driving, she had been subjected to domestic abuse for a number of years. On this occasion she was assaulted by her partner after having had a drink. Terrified as to the consequences if she stayed she ran out of the house and jumped in her car to drive off to safety.
She was stopped very shortly after by the police that had been called for her protection. She was breathalised and was over the limit.
At trial we argued that she only drove because of an emergency and that she was under duress.
As you might imagine the court are very reluctant to find people not guilty on this basis. We needed to show that she had no alternative but to drive and importantly that she did not drive any further than she needed to. There are a lot of cases on this point and they all say to be found not guilty of drink driving you cannot drive any further than you need to. In a classic case (DPP V Tomkinson) the court decided, perhaps not surprisingly, that driving 72 miles to get away from someone was not reasonable.
We get asked about these sort of cases often and we will always give an honest appraisal of the chances of winning. Some cases are never going to be strong enough and we know that clients appreciate our honest views rather than simply running with every case so that we can increase our fees. In fact we turn away more cases than we take on.
We knew this one would be difficult but it had a lot of positive features. With our experience in these sort of cases and a combination of excellent case preparation and good skills in court by the barrister our client was found not guilty and allowed to carry on driving.
Tags: drink driving defences