When Susan Downes* first approached us, she was distraught. Her first telephone conversation with a paralegal at Forrest Williams was long and halting, as she told her story between periods of silence and sobbing.
This experience is not unusual, however, and all staff at Forrest Williams are prepared to wait patiently and gently encourage the person at the other end of the telephone to tell their story, in their own time. We understand that when a person is charged with an offence this is a deeply worrying and stressful time, and we are keen to offer support as well as free initial advice.
Susan told us that she had been charged with failure to provide a specimen of breath for analysis, after police had pulled her over as a result of them having noticed that one of her rear lights was not functioning. She had been notified of a hearing at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court in just two weeks’ time.
Although Susan admitted to us that she had consumed some alcohol that night, whilst out with friends, she was most upset by the fact that the police officers who arrested her were of the opinion that she had wilfully refused to give a breath sample.
Susan told us that she had tried several times to give a sample, but that she had struggled. We asked her about this. Susan explained that she had had a chest infection for several weeks, and that she had consulted her GP about this.
On the basis of her medical issues, we advised her to plead not guilty.
In due course, a copy of her medical records was requested from the GP’s surgery, as well as a copy of the prosecution paperwork and the CCTV of the breath test room in the police station.
Susan was represented at her trial by a specialist motoring law barrister and was found to be not guilty. She was very relieved about the court’s decision and gave thanks to Forrest Williams for supporting her through this long and difficult process, which took five months from the date of arrest to the trial.
Unfortunately, Susan is not alone. Forrest Williams are approached by many people who have been charged with failing to provide a specimen of breath where there are clearly medical reasons for them not having been able to give a sustained breath, as required for the evidential breath test machine in station. In addition, some people are too stressed and anxious to comply with this lawful requirement, which can also constitute a defence. If you think this could apply to you, please call us as soon as possible on 01623 600645 to discuss.
For more details of how we can help go to our Failing to Provide a Specimen page.
*Client’s name changed to protect identity.
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