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Failure To Provide A Specimen – What Are Your Next Steps?

Failure to provide a specimen of breath or blood when requested to by the police is a serious offence that can lead to harsh penalties. In fact, this offence is treated by the Courts almost as severely as drink driving.

If you have been accused of failure to provide a specimen, you’ll probably be wondering what your next steps should be. In this article, we’ll talk you through what the law says about failing to provide a specimen, as well as how you can defend this charge and the possible penalties that you could receive.

What Happens If You Refuse To Give A Breath Sample?

If you are stopped by the police and asked to provide a sample of breath, or if you are taken to a police station and asked to provide a sample of blood, you are legally obliged to do so. If you refuse, you could be charged with failure to provide a sample.

If you find yourself being charged with failing to provide a specimen of breath or blood, you’re bound to feel worried about the consequences. What happens next will often depend on whether you had a reasonable excuse for not providing a sample – that’s why this charge will not always lead to a conviction.

Whether or not your are convicted of failure to provide a specimen will be influenced by the defence that you provide and how this is presented in Court. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced motoring offence solicitor on your side if you’ve been charged with failing to provide a specimen of breath or blood.

Read on to find out everything that you need to know about failure to provide a specimen.


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Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


What Does The Law Say?

Section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that police have the authority to request a specimen of breath, blood or urine if they have reasonable suspicion that a person may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This could include providing two specimens of breath for analysis by a breathalyser either at the side of a road or at a police station, or providing a specimen of blood or urine at the police station for a laboratory test.

If a person refuses to provide a specimen without a reasonable excuse, the police officer must warn the person that failure to provide a specimen is an offence that could lead to prosecution. If the person still fails to provide the specimen, they may be arrested.

What Types Of Sample Can Police Request?

There are three different types of sample that can be requested by police: breath, blood and urine. The type of sample that is requested will depend on the circumstances.

Breath Test

If a police officer suspects that you may be have been driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, they may request that you take a breathalyser test. Alternatively, if you have committed a traffic offence, you may be asked to provide a breath sample even if the police officer does not suspect that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

You will usually be asked to provide a preliminary sample of breath at the side of the road. If this exceeds the limit of 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, you will be taken to a police station where you will be asked to provide a second sample. This is known as an evidential specimen and can be breath, blood or urine.

Blood Or Urine Samples

If there is a medical reason why you are unable to provide a breath sample, or if a reliable breathalyser device is not available, you may be asked to provide a blood or urine sample. The police officer has the discretion to decide which type of sample will be provided, unless there is a valid medical reason why a blood sample cannot be taken.

Blood tests must be taken by a qualified professional, such as a doctor, nurse or registered health care professional. The sample will then be sent for analysis, and the suspect may choose to keep half of the sample to send off for independent analysis.

The legal limit for blood alcohol content is 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood. If the blood alcohol content of the blood or urine falls below this threshold, you will not be charged. However, if the levels are above this number, you may be liable to be charged with drink driving.

Failure to provide a specimen charge? Get legal advice here

Refusing a breath test

Why Is Failure To Provide A Breath Sample A Criminal Offence?

Although failure to provide a specimen does not prove that you are guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it can be seen as failure to cooperate. Providing a sample is the most effective way to prove your innocence if you are accused of driving under the influence, so we’d always recommend cooperating if possible.

If you are stopped by police and refuse or are unable to provide a sample of breath, blood or urine without a reasonable excuse, you are breaking the law. This means that you could be charged with failure to provide a specimen, which is often taken as seriously by the Courts as a drink or drug driving offence.

As failure to provide a specimen can be a serious offence, we’d always recommend seeking expert legal advice as soon as possible if you are charged with this offence. Your specialist motoring offence solicitor will be able to guide you through the process and build the strongest possible defence for your case.

What Is The Penalty For Failing To Provide A Specimen?

The penalty for failing to provide a specimen will depend heavily on the circumstances of the alleged offence. However, it’s important to remember that this is a serious charge and the potential penalties can be severe. Let’s take a look at the potential penalties that you could face if you are convicted of failure to provide a specimen.

If are you found guilty of failure to provide a specimen, the Court will determine which category the offence falls into. These categories are numbers one to three, based on the severity of the offence, with Category One being the most severe and Category Three being the least severe.

These categories take into account both culpability and harm. Greater levels of culpability will include deliberate refusal or failure, whilst greater levels of harm will involve a high level of impairment.

Here are the specifications for each of the three categories:

Category One Higher culpability and greater harm
Category Two Higher culpability and lesser harm or lower culpability and greater harm
Category Three Lower culpability and lesser harm

Once the category of the offence has been established, this can then be used to decide on the appropriate penalty for the conviction. It’s worth noting that whichever category the offence falls into, you will be disqualified from driving for at least 12 months.

Let’s take a look at the sentencing guidelines for failure to provide a specimen.

Severity Of Offence Penalty Range Disqualification
Category One High level community order – 6 months in custody 29 – 36 months
Category Two Low – high level community order 17 – 28 months
Category Three Band B fine – low level community order 12 – 16 months

Contact Caddick Davies Solicitors today 

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


Failure to provide conviction

Defences For Failing To Provide A Specimen

Being charged with failure to provide a specimen doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be convicted of the offence. If you had a reasonable excuse to refuse or fail to provide a sample, you may be acquitted, or your penalty reduced.

Let’s examine some of the possible defences to failure to provide a specimen.

1.     A Medical Condition

If you suffer from a medical condition that means that you have been unable to provide a sample when requested, or resulted in your failure or refusal to give a sample, this may be seen as a reasonable excuse. Examples of medical conditions which could be used as a defence include neurological conditions, injuries, respiratory conditions, panic attacks or anxiety. You’ll need proof of this condition from a medical expert to be used as evidence in court.

2.     A Phobia Of Needles

If the police request a blood test, a genuine phobia of needles could be a reasonable excuse for failing to provide a specimen. Again, you’ll need to have medical evidence to prove that this is the case.

3.     Police Behaviour

If the police did not follow the proper procedure when requesting the sample, this may mean that the case could be dismissed. For example, if you refuse to provide a specimen, the police officer must warn you that refusing to provide a sample may lead to prosecution. If the officer fails to inform you of this, the driver has not committed an offence and the charge can be challenged.

What Isn’t Seen As A Reasonable Excuse?

Although there are several reasonable excuses for failure to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine, there are also many excuses which are often provided which will not be seen as acceptable by a court. This is why it’s so important to have experienced legal representation to guide you through the process of defending your case.

Reasons which are likely to not be seen as a reasonable excuse include:

  • Mental or physical impairment or incapacity as a result of alcohol or drugs
  • Mental or physical incapacity as a result of the stress of the situation without a medically diagnosed mental health condition
  • Refusal to cooperate until consulting a solicitor
  • Refusal to cooperate until being permitted a phone call
  • Religious or spiritual beliefs
  • A dislike of needles or blood that doesn’t amount to a medically diagnosed phobia
  • A refusal to have a blood sample taken from a particular part of the body

Charged with failure to provide

What To Do If You Are Charged With Failure To Provide A Specimen

If you are charged with failure to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine, it’s important that you contact an experienced motoring offence solicitor as soon as possible for specialist advice on your case. Although there is a wealth of information about this charge on the internet, every case is different and it’s important that your individual circumstances are carefully considered.

If you wish to contest the charge, we can put together the strongest possible defence to plead your innocence. On the other hand, should you choose to admit that you made a mistake and plead guilty, we can put together a compelling case to reduce your sentence, helping you to avoid receiving a custodial sentence.

The best thing you can do if you’ve been charged with failure to provide a specimen is to contact an experienced motoring offence solicitor as early as possible. This will allow plenty of time for your solicitor to get to know your case and put together a solid defence on your behalf.

Charged with failure to provide a specimen? Click here for legal advice

Related Questions

Is Failure To Provide A Specimen A Serious Charge?

Failing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine is a serious charge. In fact, it is often treated as seriously by the Courts as driving under the influence of drink or drugs, meaning that you could be sentenced to up to six months imprisonment. If you are charged with this offence, it’s important that you have a specialist motoring offence solicitor on your side to present your defence to the Court.

Can You Refuse A Blood Test By Police?

Police officers require consent to take a blood sample from a suspect – they are not able to force a person to provide a blood sample against their will. However, if you are requested to provide a blood sample by a police officer and refuse to do so, you are likely to be charged with failure to provide a specimen, which is a serious criminal offence.

Can I Still Be Charged With Failing To Provide A Specimen If I Have Asthma?

Respiratory conditions can sometimes be used as a reasonable excuse for failing to provide a specimen. However, having asthma in itself is not a defence, unless there is proof that the condition impacted on your ability to provide a breath sample. To be able to use asthma as a defence, you would need to provide that suffering from asthma meant that you were unable to take a deep enough breath to activate the breathalyser, or that you suffered an asthma attack whilst trying to provide a sample of breath.

Get Specialist Advice On Your Failure To Provide Charge

Receiving a failure to provide a specimen conviction can have serious consequences, resulting in a disqualification from driving, a fine and even imprisonment. That’s why it’s so important to have experienced legal representation if you’re facing this charge.

At Caddick Davies, we understand just how stressful this charge can be, leaving you worried about your livelihood and your future. We are here when you need us, and we will always be on your side, working with you to achieve the best possible resolution to your charge.

If you’re looking for expert legal advice regarding a charge of failure to provide a specimen, contact us today for a free consultation.


Contact Caddick Davies Solicitors today 

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


 

Motoring Lawyer at Caddick Davies Solicitors
Caddick Davies is recognised as one of England and Wales’ leading motoring law firms, offering specialist Speeding Solicitors, Drink Driving Solicitors & Dangerous Driving Solicitors.We provide advice and representation on all motoring offences including speeding, the avoidance of disqualification on penalty points or “totting up” (exceptional hardship), driving without due care and attention (careless driving), dangerous driving, drink driving, as well as a range of services related to medical revocation of a driving licence.
Neil Davies

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