If you were caught drink driving – but only because your drink was spiked with alcohol – then you can submit a plea in mitigation. This means that while you are technically guilty of drinking driving, there are special reasons that explain why this happened. If the plea is successful, you will avoid a driving ban. Speak with our drink driving solicitors.
Were your drinks spiked with alcohol, causing you to be caught drink driving? Contact us now at Ashmans Solicitors. Our motoring defence solicitors have helped other people in this situation and can help you too. We represent clients from across England and Wales, with offices in London, Leeds, Sheffield, Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
Every year, we hear from people who have been caught drinking driving – but only because their drinks were spiked. In legal terms, we call this ‘lacing’.
Clearly, this is a very distressing situation to be in. You never intended to drive while over the legal limit. You may have been drinking soft drinks, or you may have kept your alcohol consumption to a minimum, knowing that you would be getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. The police then pull you over for a breath test and you are stunned to learn that you are over the limit. You wonder how this could have happened, with the only plausible explanation being that your drink was laced.
You might know the person (or people) who spiked your drinks, meaning you can confirm that this is indeed what happened. We have heard from clients whose friends were playing tricks on them, and thought it funny to spike their drinks or lie about a drink being non-alcoholic. They do this to ‘cheer them up’ or simply to create mischief.
Other times, the motivation is more sinister. The lacer drops alcohol into someone’s drink with the intention of sexually assaulting them later on, or committing some other offence such as stealing their belongings. Women are the usual targets, particularly where sexual assault is concerned. However, men are also targeted, or may drink a beverage that was intended for someone else. In these situations, the lacer is often an unknown individual who cannot be traced. This means you must convince the court that your drink was spiked without relying on the confession of the lacer. This is more difficult to achieve, but it is certainly possible.
Can you be charged with drink driving if your drink was spiked?
If you have been caught drink driving because your drink was laced, then you probably want to know what the law says. Can you still be charged with drink driving, even though you did not intentionally drink alcohol? Is there anything you can do to explain the situation to the court? And will you still face a driving disqualification?
Let us look at these questions in turn.
Can you still be charged with drink driving if your drink was spiked? The answer to this question is yes, the police will press charges and your case will go to court. This is because you are technically guilty of the offence. You were driving while over the legal limit, so you do not have a complete defence. But what you do have is a mitigation, which brings us on to our next point…
Is there anything you can do to explain the situation to the court? The answer to this question is yes, you can tell the court that you were only over the limit because your drink was laced. This is known as a plea in mitigation. The burden is on you to prove that your drink was spiked, and that you would not have been over the limit had this not happened.
Will you still face a driving disqualification? The answer to this question is no, not necessarily. If you successfully plea mitigating circumstances, then the court will be persuaded to show leniency when sentencing. This means you should avoid a driving ban altogether, which will no doubt be a huge relief.
How do you prove your drink has been spiked?
As mentioned above, the burden is on you to prove your case. Specifically, you must convince the court of three things:
- Your drink was spiked with alcohol; and
- You did not know or suspect that the drink(s) had been spiked; and
- You would not have been over the drink driving limit but for the additional alcohol added to your drink
Proving your drink was spiked with alcohol
Firstly, you must prove that your drink was spiked with alcohol. This requires witness evidence from you and from anyone else you were with. Your statement will be vital, as you will need to recount exactly what you drank, be it soft drinks or alcoholic beverages. If you know the person who laced your drink, then it is highly beneficial if he/she testifies in court that they laced your drinks without your consent or knowledge. However, even if you do not know the person who spiked your drink (or you cannot persuade them to appear in court) then all is not lost. We may ask the people you were with to provide a witness statement. If your friends, family or colleagues can verify that you were not intending to drinking alcohol, or only had one, then it will help your case.
Proving you did not know or suspect your drink had been spiked
Next you need to establish that you did not know or suspect that your drink had been spiked. Again, this requires evidence from you, as the defendant. The court will want to know why you could not feel the effects of the alcohol. If the alcohol reading was very high – and you claim that you were only drinking soft drinks – then the court may say that you should have suspected foul play. This is particularly true if you are an experienced alcohol drinker and know what it is like to feel ‘drunk’. However, if you were only a couple of micrograms over the legal drink drive limit, then you may successfully argue that you did not notice the intoxication. Or there may be other factors at play that explain why you did not know/suspect excessive alcohol consumption.
Proving that you would not have been over the legal limit, but for the laced drinks
Finally, you must verify that had it not been for the laced drinks, you would never have been over the drink drive limit. Otherwise, your case is a moot point. You cannot drink 10 pints of beer and say that you were only over the limit because your friend put a shot of vodka in one of these pints. Proving that you would not have been over the legal limit requires expert scientific evidence from a toxicologist. A toxicologist will assess what you drank and back calculate your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. In other words, the expert will say what your BAC levels would have been, had your drink not been spiked. The toxicologist will need to know your age, weight, height and sex to make this calculation.
Should you get a drink driving solicitor?
We highly recommend getting a solicitor if you intend to plea in mitigation – such as the motoring offence solicitors here at Ashmans. We know what evidence is needed to prove that your drink was spiked, exonerating you from blame. It is not as simple as telling the court what happened: they might not believe you. The prosecution may also give you a difficult time under cross-examination, looking for holes or discrepancies in your story. You must have a watertight case that shows:
- Your drink was spiked; and
- You did not know or suspect your drink had been spiked; and
- You would not have been over the limit, if your drink had not been laced
If you fail to prove just one of these elements, your case will fail and you may be disqualified. Having a legal expert on your side gives your defence the best chance of success. We are highly experienced motoring offence lawyers and work with leading toxicology experts in these cases. We have helped others save their licence after their drink was spiked. We can help you too.
Contact our drink driving solicitors – England and Wales
If your drink was spiked then you do not have a complete defence, but you do have a mitigation. We can prepare your case and present it to the court, working to get a favourable outcome on your behalf. We appreciate this is a scary situation to be in. It may also feel very unfair, as you never intended to do anything wrong. Our solicitors understand this and will do everything in their power to help you.