Monday, October 10, 2011

Politely Illegal

He was very polite. When the policeman first asked him to blow into the bag, he refused politely saying there was no point because he knew that he was over the limit. When he was told that not taking the test was a crime, he still refused. Politely.

Back at the station he remained polite, but refused to take the  test. He was reminded that if he refused to take the breath test again he would be charged with the offence of refusing to take the test. He refused. Again. Politely. And was charged with refusing to take the test.

Then he was led to the cells and asked the policeman how long he would be inside "10-12-14 hours - until morning anyway".

Then in one possible scenario, he panicked, changed his mind and asked (politely) to be allowed to take the test. But the copper told him to stop messing them around and get in the cell.

In the other possible scenario, that conversation never happened.

Then in the morning, even though he knew he had been over the limit, and even though he had consistently refused to take the test, he got an expensive lawyer to very impolitely try to get him off on a technicality.

The lawyer made much of the fact that couldn't be sure that he hadn't had a final change of heart that had been cruelly denied by a policeman in a hurry. And OK, so he left it late, but is it possible to define how late is "too late"?

We didn't have much sympathy for these argument and found the guy guilty.

What boggles me though is that this civilised, polite guy, did something wrong, got caught, acknowledged it was wrong, felt shame for doing it and yet still expected somehow to escape punishment. What is in his head ? Does he feel himself a victim? Does he feel he's been "punished enough already" ?

One interesting fact I got from the defence solicitor - it takes about 1 hour for the alcohol in breath to fall 7 micrograms. So say you decide to play for time and manage to delay the process by ten minutes then your reading would only be one microgram less. If you were twice the limit you'd have to stonewall for five hours - by which time you for sure would be charged with refusing the test.


Marjorie said...

I suppose one has to bear in mind that if someone has drunk enough to be over the drink drive limit, they may also have drunk enough that their judgment is impaired.

And of course, that in the cold light of day and sobriety that the consequences of a conviction are rather clearer.

Is disqualification automatic for failure to provide a specimen? (Absent any good reason such as a serious medical condition, I mean)

Stan said...

There's a limit to how long you can keep the police waiting - we thought that one second before the cell door opened after at least four refusals was way too late.

Yes, it's actually a more serious offence than blowing moderately over the limit - the ban is mandatory - he would have been well advised to give it a go.

Marjorie said...


(my cold light of day comment was about his decision to instruct a solicitor, not the (possible) last minute offer to give a specimin.)