§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
I am pleased that following discussions between representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Crown prosecution service and the Justices Clerks' Society, agreement has been reached on the way in which alleged offences of drink driving should be handled to ensure that they are dealt with as expeditiously as possible. The agreement, which is now in operation, provides that where an evidential breath test is in excess of the legal limit, and there is no subsequent blood or urine test, the person should be charged immediately rather than being released without charge and summoned at a later date. The agreement further provides that for cases where the documentation is complete and no further inquiries are required, the defendant should be bailed to appear at court seven days after his release from a police station. Where there are outstanding inquiries about documents, he should be bailed to attend court 14 days after release from the police station. Where inquiries are necessary for other driving offences, he should be bailed for 21 days. These procedures should ensure that most cases take no longer than 21 days from offence to the defendant's first court appearance at which we anticipate a substantial number of cases will be completed. The target days are of course without prejudice to any more expeditious handling which may be achieved locally. In some cases, where it is not the defendant's first drink driving offence he may well be brought to court within days so that the court can consider whether or not it is appropriate to impose a no driving condition on his bail. These arrangements represent a further significant step forward in dealing with drink drivers. Their operation will be reviewed in 12 months' time.