A client of mine was recently found by police to be drunk in charge of a motor vehicle whilst in possession of cocaine. A member of the public had alerted police that there was a man slumped on the steering wheel of his vehicle which was parked up on a residential road. Police attended the scene in the early hours of the morning and woke up my client.
Police asked him why he was sleeping in the vehicle and why the keys were in the ignition. The client was breathalized and failed the initial road side test. He was arrested for being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst over the limit contrary to section 5(1)(b) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. While he was being arrested by one officer. The second copper did a search of the vehicle and found a bag of coke inside. The client was also arrested for possession of class A drugs contrary to section 5(2) and schedule 4 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
There exists a statutory defence to the being in charge matter.
The defence is (there was)-no intention and / or likelihood of the vehicle being driven whilst the driver was over the prescribed limit.
In terms of the drugs matter. There is always a defence if you DID NOT KNOW the drugs were in your possession. No Mens Rea in legal terms.
In plain english – if you intend to sleep and wake only when you are sober – and the Judge accepts this – you are Not Guilty. In cases where you are DRIVING this defence is not available. Of course it is more difficult to win cases like this if the client was in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition! It is much more easy to win in circumstances which are indicative of a real pre planned sleep session – for example in the back seat with a sleeping bag! (with keys anywhere BUT the ignition).
The penalties for being drunk in charge are similar to penalties for drunk driving – but they are milder in comparison. For example in a case where the client is only slightly over the limit – even if you plead guilty you have a good chance of not losing your licence.
In this particular matter my client decided to fight the case. It was a good decision. I had outlined the positive and negative aspects of the case and my estimated chances of success. In the end we beat BOTH charges and my client remains a man of good character with no offences against his name. His insurance stays the same and he is able to continue to provide for his family.
I have conducted many cases of this type and welcome all new instructions. I do not offer legal aid but have competitive rates and many satisfied clients. Arrange an appointment today in my offices at HANGER LANE NW10, LONDON. Alexander Goscimski – Solicitor Advocate.