Drunk in Charge of a Vehicle – The Road to Not Guilty
Chesterfield Motoring solicitor David Gittins recently represented a client appearing before Chesterfield Magistrates Court for being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. A detailed summary of what being drunk in charge means can be found here: Drunk in Charge – VHS Fletchers Solicitors
David’s client accepted that he was over the drink drive limit and was found in the driver’s seat of the vehicle but stated clearly that he had no intention to drive. As a result, David had to use his extensive knowledge to instruct an expert, speak to defence witnesses to convince the court that his client was Not Guilty of the offence.
The client was seen asleep by the police at around 9.30 on a Sunday morning sat in the driver’s seat of a car. The police stopped and could see that the engine was running. Upon speaking to David’s client, it was also noticeable that he was under the influence of alcohol.
The client was arrested as he was found to be over twice the drink drive limit.
The Police charged the client without interviewing him – believing their case was compelling and the court process began.
David took early instructions from his client and established that he had no intention of driving whilst still over the legal limit. In brief, he had driven to his brother’s house before heading into Chesterfield for drinks. He became separated from his brother and had no way of getting into the house he was parked outside. As a result, he had simply decided to sleep in the car with the engine on to keep him warm. He had then planned to be collected by his father and taken for a Sunday dinner as happened every week within the family. He would have then returned later in the day to collect his car.
David knew this account could amount to a defence if an expert confirmed that by the time he intended to drive he would be under the drink drive level. The client would then have to convince the court that was his intention.
Instructing An Expert
David, with the assistance of Trainee Solicitor Chloe Wright, immediately instructed an expert asking for analysis of when the client would be under the legal limit to drive. The expert was told at this stage the time David’s client intended to drive so that it could not be suggested the client later fitted his account around the expert’s findings.
In addition, David and Chloe spoke to both the client’s brother, whom he had been out with the night before, and his father about what happened every Sunday in their family. Statements were obtained and both witnesses agreed to attend court and provide live evidence to assist.
Prior to the trial commencing, the expert had confirmed that David’s client would have been under the drink drive limit by the time he had planned to drive. David was able to convince the prosecution to agree that evidence, meaning the expert witness did not have to attend Court. Therefore, the only issue for the Court was “did they believe the defendant was not going to drive before he said he would?”
At trial the Prosecution presented their evidence before David set about the defence case. The defendant, his brother and father all gave evidence. They were consistent and believable.
The Magistrates listened closely and found the Defendant NOT GUILTY. The Defendant was delighted and was able to keep his driving licence.
In this case David’s client had the benefit of legal aid meaning he didn’t have to pay for either his legal fees or the expert reports. For more information on legal aid click here: Criminal Legal Aid Solicitors – VHS Fletchers Solicitors
In some circumstances Legal Aid may not be eligible for cases such as this. However, in those case competitive Fixed Fees can be agreed for VHS Fletchers to provide legal representation. Click here for more information about our Private Road Traffic Fees: Motoring Offences Fixed Fees – VHS Fletchers Solicitors
Whether you are admitting an offence or intend to contest an allegation such as drink driving you will benefit from seeking expert advice and representation.