The government has announced it has committed £350,000 towards a competition for companies to develop a new roadside breathalyser device and bring the same to market. The idea is that this would be used in suspected drink drive cases and would allow police to carry out evidential breath tests at the roadside.  This would negate the need to arrest those over the limit and take them to a police station for a full test.  It is suggested that this would also lead to saving in police time and resources.

Roadside breath tests

Currently police administer roadside breath tests when they have “reasonable suspicion” an individual may be driving in excess of the prescribed limit of alcohol. Such devices are considered “screening” devices i.e. the results are not considered to be of evidential value. If an individual tests positive on a roadside device they will then be arrested and take to a police station where a full evidential breath test is conducted. If this is positive they will generally be charged with drink driving and if it is negative then they would usually be released with no further action.

It is expected police forces throughout the UK will be able to use the new device by summer 2020.

Roads minister Jesse Norman commented:

“The drink-drive limit has helped to give us one of the safest road networks in the world but there is always more we can do.

“This new mobile breathalyser technology will enable the police to enforce the alcohol limit more rigorously on those who still choose to drive after drinking, putting others at risk.”

Would these new roadside breathalyser devices be reliable?

It remains to be seen whether the new devices developed would be sufficiently reliable to be used as evidential devices. There are currently three main breathalyser devices used across police stations in England and Wales and Olliers Motor Law have substantial experience in challenging the reliability of such devices and work together with the leading experts in the field. If you face a charge of drink driving and are concerned that the results of your breath test may be unreliable we would suggest you contact us to discuss your case.

Road safety measures

The measures are part of a package of measures announced to improve road safety including also £480,000 for the RAC Foundation to trial an innovative new approach to road casualty investigation, looking more closely at issues causing road collisions.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said:

“We are keen to seize the opportunity to work with the Department for Transport, the police and others to explore the scope for learning more about the causes of the road crashes that continue to blight – and curtail – so many lives.”

Ruth Peters – Specialist Motoring Solicitor

Written by Ruth Peters, specialist motoring solicitor at Olliers Motor Law. If you require further advice in relation to an offence of drink driving (or indeed any other motoring offence) please contact Ruth on 0808 168 0017 or 07714 680535. You can also email Ruth at [email protected] or click here to contact us.

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