HC Deb 26 October 1982 vol 29 cc955-6


Lords amendment: No. 79, after clause 52, insert— . In section 12(3) of the 1972 Act as inserted by Schedule 8 to the Transport Act 1981 (circumstances in which a person fails to provide a specimen of breath for a breath test or for analysis), the following words shall be added at the end "and provided in such a way as to enable the objective of the test or analysis to be satisfactorily achieved".

8 pm

Mrs. Chalker

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

This is a technical amendment, designed to clarify a point of uncertainly in the law on drinking and driving. It has come to light as the result of a recent court case, in which a driver who had a blood alcohol content well in excess of the legal limit none the less managed to escape conviction on a procedural technicality relating to the way in which he had provided a breath sample in the initial roadside screening test. In that test, the driver succeeded in producing a false negative result by inflating the bag with two separate shallow breaths rather than the one continuous breath required in the manufacturer's instructions. The court, however, accepted the driver's contention that he had in fact supplied a breath specimen within the terms of the law and that his subsequent arrest by the police was therefore unlawful.

While we are fairly sure that the decision will create no difficulties for the new evidential breath testing procedure, where one must give a continuous and deep breath, there is a risk that suspects could produce false negative results in roadside screening tests which do not use the evidential breath tester. That test is carried out at the police station. Therefore, the effectiveness of the new law would undoubtedly be impaired. The amendment, which closes the loophole, is beneficial and right. We want greater safety on our roads and, whoever is in Government, such loopholes should be closed.

Lords amendment agreed to.

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