I attended Nuneaton Magistrates Court last week representing a client who faced a drink driving charge.
My client’s side of the story was that she had been on a night out and had not planned to drive home. She did not drink much, however, and decided at the end of the night to drive home as she was feeling ill. She believed she would be under the limit.
She was stopped by the police and breathalyser and was over the limit.
She later discovered that the people she had been out with that night had been adding shots to her drinks to ensure she drank the same amount as them. They, of course, believed that she would not be driving home.
This is a very common scenario, and is a case of Spiked Drinks. Whilst the media portray spiked drinks as being a malicious act done by strangers, it is usually something done by a person’s friends or family with good intentions – usually to help the person relax and have a good time, or to cheer them up if they are down.
There are Special Reasons where a person may be able to avoid a disqualification for drink driving, and having their drinks spiked is one of those reasons.
However, certain criteria must be met – and in this case, my client had knowingly had a very small amount of alcohol, but had had a large amount spiked. What she thought was illness was actually the effects of the extra drink she had consumed.
If the magistrates believe that a person should have realised they have had more to drink, they are entitled not to find Special Reasons.
This was a complex case, and with my client’s friends all giving evidence that they had spiked her drinks, the issue was not whether the drinks were spiked, but whether she should have realised they were.
I guided the magistrates through the appropriate case law, and in the end they decided that they found sufficient Special Reasons to reduce what could have been a 17 month disqualification to a 7 month disqualification.
Given the circumstances of this case, I believed this to be a good result, and my client was very happy.