Drink Driving Breath Reading of 79

Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams

Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams

At Mansfield Magistrates’ Court this week, Adele Fox was relieved when she was sentenced for her drink driving offence. She told our Senior Solicitor, Steve Williams, that she had been expected to be disqualified for much longer due to the aggravating factors relating to her offence. In addition, she did not expect to be offered a place on the drink drive rehabilitation course, as she felt the court would want to make an example of her, and punish her more harshly.

Adele told Steve that she realised her outcome had no doubt been influenced by his assertive mitigation within the court room, and the skilful way in which he had painted a picture of her good character in court, whilst recognising the fact that she had hit a parked car while driving with a breath reading over the legal limit.

Adele had been driving the short distance home after a night out with friends when her car made contact with another vehicle parked at the side of the road. She told us that this was observed, and that the police were called. However, she stressed that this behaviour was out of character and that she had no previous drink driving offences.

Before the court hearing, Adele had prepared herself as best she could for the disqualification she knew would happen. She travelled to court with a friend, who drove for her, and she brought a letter of apology and a couple of character reference letters, as advised to do by her case worker.

She knew that for her reading, a breath reading of 79, the sentencing guidelines indicate that the disqualification period be in the range 17-22 months. Adele was expecting to be disqualified for 22 months.

However, on the day of the hearing, following Steve Williams’ forceful mitigation, the District Judge ruled that Adele be disqualified for 17 months and that she be offered a place on the drink driving course, the completion of which will reduce her disqualification by up to 25%.

Adele told Steve she was very relieved by the knowledge that she would be back on the road much sooner than she had anticipated, and stressed that she had learned her lesson from this one isolated court experience.

If you need help for a drink driving matter, call our expert team now on 01623 600645.


A Malicious Drink Driving Prosecution Dropped

Steve Williams of Forrest Williams

Steve Williams of Forrest Williams

A Malicious Drink Driving Prosecution Dropped

Anita Harrison received a phone call this week which, she said, meant there would be an end to her sleepless nights.

Steve Williams, Senior Partner of Forrest Williams, had taken a call from the East Midlands office of the CPS, informing him that the charge of drink driving had been discontinued, meaning that the case against Anita had been dropped.

The reason for this was that the CPS had recently received an expert’s report commissioned by Forrest Williams, which supported Anita’s assertion that she consumed red wine after driving, which had pushed her breath-alcohol reading over the legal limit.

Her assertion was supported by the fact that the police officers who had arrived at her house, on the date in question, had taken photographs of an opened bottle of wine and a wine glass, both of which they had marked liquid levels on. These photographs, in turn, formed part of the bundle of documents which were being used as evidence in the case against Anita.

Once a Prosecutor had reviewed the independent expert’s report, however, a decision was made not to continue with the prosecution.

Once we shared this news with Anita, she was understandably delighted. Having already attended Nottingham Magistrates’ Court twice, to enter her not guilty plea and for a ‘mention’ hearing, she was informed that the trial would be vacated and the charge against her discontinued.

Forrest Williams were also very pleased about the success of this case, as the charge against Anita appears to have resulted from a malicious anonymous call to the police regarding the fact that she was a drink driver, when in fact she had had just one drink in a pub before going home to shower and then spend the evening with friends.

She told us she had never planned to drive after having got changed, and that she had arranged for a friend to pick her up – hence the reason why she had opened the bottle of wine and had a glass while getting ready to go out.

Another successful outcome for law firm Forrest Williams, who offer a bespoke service to suit each client’s individual needs.



Auto-brewery Syndrome – What Is It?

Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams

Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams

Auto-brewery Syndrome – what is it?

Auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, is a rare medical condition in which intoxicating quantities of ethanol (alcohol) are produced through endogenous (organism, tissue or cell) fermentation within the digestive system.

However, as the condition is rare, diagnosis is not straightforward. One case went undetected for 20 years!

The complaint can be traced back to the Japan in the 1970s, when doctors reported treating patients with chronic yeast infections. 

In papers published at that time, the researchers described how all of these patients had an abnormal liver enzyme, which meant that they weren’t great at getting rid of alcohol from the body.

In one case to hit the news recently, 35 year old Nick Hess of Columbus, Ohio, told the media how he would become drunk every time he ate chips or other carbohydrates.

Before he was diagnosed, his wife feared he was an alcoholic.

Sometimes Nick’s symptoms would take days to develop, but on other occasions the onset would be almost immediate.

For Nick it was no laughing matter. He would become confused, slur his words, and suffer stomach pains and headaches. Every day for a year he would vomit on waking.

In desperation, his wife, Karen Daw, filmed him and played back the footage for him to see. Nick says he was terrified at what he saw.

In desperation, he approached his GP for help, but the initial reaction was the same as his wife’s – that he was an alcoholic who was in denial about his problem.

It was only when Nick was admitted to hospital for tests that the truth was revealed.

The condition means Nick’s stomach has an overgrowth of yeast, which turns any carbohydrates he eats into alcohol. 

Nick now takes anti-fungal drugs and sticks to a special low carbohydrate diet, which helps to combat the condition. 

Claims of endogenous fermentation of this type have been used as a defence against drink driving charges.

However, as detailed above, this is a rare medical condition. For most people charged with a drink driving offence it would not be a defence.

If you have been charged with a drink driving offence and would like to see if you have a defence, call Forrest Williams on 01623 600645 for free initial advice.

Getting Your Licence Back After A Ban

Helen Newman of Forrest Williams solicitors

Helen Newman of Forrest Williams solicitors

Getting Your Licence Back After A Ban

Are you having issues with obtaining the return of your licence from the DVLA following the end of a disqualification period? Have you had your licence revoked or refused on medical grounds? Did you know that you can appoint someone to liaise with the DVLA on your behalf?

That’s what a recent client of ours did. He had been convicted of Drink Driving and served his disqualification. He had made the application for the return of his licence but then run into issues with the DVLA suggesting that he may require a medical before they were willing to consider his application further.

The client contacted us in despair, he had been going round in circles with the DVLA for weeks and was getting nowhere. In his eyes he had served his sentence and now just wanted to move forward with his life. It wasn’t even that he objected to having a medical if one was required, just that he wanted someone to talk to him and explain what was going on.

We spent time chatting to the client, we talked about why he wanted his licence back, the circumstances of the incident which led to his disqualification, how his life has changed since then. We ensured that we were able to answer any questions the DVLA may have and to try to ensure we could move this matter forward.

From our conversations with the client we did not believe he would require a medical, he did not appear to fall into any of the ‘High-Risk Offender’ categories and nor had anything he told us suggested that there would be a medical reason to suggest that he may not be granted the return of his licence.

We spoke to the DVLA, wrote to them, followed up again several times with them verbally until we were able to speak with a decision maker who agreed with us that our client would not require a medical and confirmed that his licence would be issued to him immediately. We were even able to obtain this confirmation from them in writing so he would be able to drive immediately and not have to wait for the new licence to arrive in the post to know it had been granted.

At Forrest Williams we have had success in appealing against revocation of licence, refusal of licence and disputes over the return of licence. If you are experiencing any of these issues then give the team a call on 0800 1933 999 and we would be happy to discuss your circumstances with you and to advise you on the best course of action for you.


Defence to Failing To Provide a Specimen

Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams

Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams

Do You Have A Defence to Failing To Provide A Specimen?

Simon Parnell was delighted this week when he received a phone call from his case worker at Forrest Williams, informing him that the motoring charge against him had been dropped. 

When Simon first contacted us, he made clear from the beginning that although he had been charged with Failing to Provide a Specimen of Breath for Analysis, and this charge had resulted in him receiving a summons to court, he had actually tried his best to comply with the request of the police. 

Simon told us that, on arrival at the police station, he had immediately made the desk sergeant aware that he was in some pain, following his involvement in a car crash just a few weeks ago. 

The car crash, he told us, had been serious – it had resulted in his car ending up in a ditch and his being admitted to hospital, where he had to have a dozen stitches in his head. Since the car crash, Simon informed us, he had been suffering with back spasms which were so severe that he had been unable to work and had been signed off indefinitely, covered by his GP’s sick notes. 

On the date in question, Simon told his case worker that he had also been recovering from a bad cold, which affected his sinuses and his ability to breathe in the usual way. 

Simon told us he had tried as hard as he could to give the required samples of breath, but that he was unable to for the reasons given above. 

Once charged with an offence, he was so upset that he quickly arranged to see his GP, who wrote a supporting letter confirming that he was genuinely struggling with painful back spasms, and that breathing out for an extended period of time, as required by the breath test procedure, would have been very difficult/impossible for him to do. 

We advised Simon that he had a defence to failing to provide a specimen.

Following an initial hearing, at which Simon’s not guilty plea was entered, a copy of his medical records was requested and reviewed. These documents showed that Simon’s account of the pain he was in, and the medical treatment he had sought accordingly, were accurate. 

Simon’s case worker liaised assertively with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at this point, with the request that the charge against Simon be discontinued on the basis that he had medical reasons for not providing the required samples of breath. It was respectfully pointed out to the CPS that at no point had the police elected to request either blood or urine samples, both of which could more easily have been provided by our client. The case worker involved also informed the CPS that Simon had made clear to the police officers concerned that he was in pain, and that the level of pain he was in made it impossible for him to give an extended breath, as the breath test procedure required. This important information, however, appeared to have been ignored. 

As a result of the contact from Forrest Williams, a Prosecutor from the CPS reviewed the case and a decision to discontinue the charge against our client was taken. 

Simon was understandably delighted when he received this news. It meant that he no longer faces a potential disqualification from driving, and can now focus his energies on a return to full health. 

He thanked his case worker and all in the Forrest Williams office for their support and assistance through what had been a very stressful time of his life.

If you have been charged with failing to provide a specimen, contact our expert team now on 01623 600645.

Concussion As A Defence To Failing To Provide a Specimen

Concussion As A Defence To Failing To Provide a Specimen

What happens when you don’t understand what the police are asking of you?

What if you can’t comply with the requests of you because you can’t make sense of what is going on? 

That’s what faced a client of ours who was recently cleared of a Failure to Provide a Specimen for Analysis Charge in Kettering Magistrates Court. He did not give a sample of breath because he did not understand what was going on. Not because of any linguistic barrier but because he had concussion. He had been involved in a serious road accident and had blacked out.  The witness statements describe the car as spinning and then rolling several times, they describe him as stumbling, disorientated, slurring his speech. 

Now our client did not remember the accident, not really, certainly not clearly. In fact he didn’t really remember a great deal about the evening. He knew he’d had plans to go for dinner so may have had a glass of wine with his dinner but was very clear to us that he would very rarely have more than 1 drink if he was driving.  He certainly didn’t expect that he would have been over the limit. 

So why not give a sample or breath to prove it? Quite simply because he didn’t understand what was happening because of his injuries.

The charge of Failure to Provide a Sample for analysis is there as a back up. It’s a fail-safe for the police to use when they believe someone is deliberately failing to provide – because if they genuinely believe there are grounds not to be able to provide a sample of breath they do have the option of asking for blood or urine. 

Our client was hospitalised after this accident, the police themselves took him to the hospital once he left the station. 

As part of our case preparation we instructed a medical expert to meet with our client, to assess him, to review his medical records from the night of the incident and subsequent GP/hospital visits and to compile a report for the court to explain the impact that concussion can have on the cognitive function of the brain – because it’s not just a headache, it’s a serious medical condition with numerous symptoms. 

We believed the medical report was self-explanatory, it clearly set out the issues facing our client on the night of his arrest. Unfortunately the prosecution would not agree to the evidence being entered to court in it’s written format (something that is common when we present strong evidence to support our case) and so our expert attended court to give the report verbally. His expert testimony explained to the court the mental state our client would have been in, the disorientation, the out of character actions and behaviour, and, put simply, that he may not have been able to understand what was being asked of him and why and, just as importantly, the consequences of his actions by refusing to provide a sample.

The Court found in our client’s favour. They found that he had a genuine reason for failing to have provided a breath sample. He was acquitted of the charge, avoiding the driving disqualification that would have been imposed had he been convicted. He was not ordered to pay any court or prosecution costs and an order was made that his own legal fees should be assessed and a proportion refunded to him. Both he and his wife were thrilled and so relieved that this long ordeal was over.

This also means that his Insurance Company will be able to finalise his claim for the accident and that cover should remain in place as he was not convicted of an offence. 

If you have been charged with an offence and need to speak with someone about this for honest advice then give the Forrest Williams team a call on 01623 600645 and we will be happy to help you.

Can I Argue Laced Drinks For Drink Driving Charge?

Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams

Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams

Can I Argue Laced Drinks For A Drink Driving Charge?

  • Are you charged with Drink Driving?
  • Did your reading surprise you?
  • Do you think you should have been under the limit?
  • Do you think the reading was wrong?
  • Is there a possibility that you were given additional alcohol that you were not intending to consume?


If you answered yes to all of these questions then you may have a case to ask the courts not to impose the otherwise mandatory disqualification associated with a Drink Driving conviction.

We recently represented a client with such a case in Warwickshire Magistrates Court. He was having a few drinks with friends (bottles of beer decanted into glasses), he was not pouring the drinks himself. It was a Polish beer he was unfamiliar with. He did not realise that his friend, when pouring the drinks, was mixing additional alcohol with the beer. His friend did not realise he was going to be driving later and was simply mixing our client identical drinks to those he was making for himself and their companion. This scenario is a perfect example of laced drinks. There does not need to be a malicious element, it is not the press image of ‘spiking’ someone’s drink – it is being given alcohol you had not asked for and were unaware of consuming, and it is something that happens often.

When putting a laced drinks argument to the court there are a number of elements to be satisfied:

  • Were you given alcohol you were unaware of?
  • Was it reasonable for you to be unaware of this additional alcohol?
  • Should you have known you were unfit to drive even if you hadn’t realised it was due to excess alcohol?
  • Would you have been under the limit had it not been for the additional alcohol?

The easiest way to answer the first question is to have the individual who laced the drinks or a witness to that lacing give evidence to the court, though this is not vital. The second and third points will be covered when you give evidence. And to prove the fourth point, one of our forensic experts can provide a report to calculate what your blood alcohol would have been without the additional drink or, in some cases, it can be clear using common sense that the expected alcohol consumption could not have provided such a reading.

Laced Drinks cases are not straight forward and we would always suggest that expert, specialist advice is obtained. There will be at least 2 hearings and prosecution evidence to be interrogated.

If you have been charged with Drink Driving and you believe you may have a laced drinks case then give the Forrest Williams Team a call on 01623 600645 and we will be happy to advise you further on the likelihood of any such application being successful.

Asperger’s Drink Driving Case Study

Helen Newman of Forrest Williams

Asperger’s Drink Driving Case Study

Eighteen year old Ravindra Patil pleaded guilty to a drink driving offence at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court this week and was taken by surprise when the District Judge pronounced sentence.

With her alcohol-breath reading of 51mg, Ravindra has been warned by her case worker at Forrest Williams to expect a disqualification towards the top end of the lowest category, ie around 16 months. Further, she had been made aware that the District Judge had the discretion to sentence outside of these lowest category guidelines (ie 12-16 months) due to the aggravating factors in her case.

On the date in question, Ravindra had been driving along the motorway when she approached an area where roadworks were taking place and the speed limit reduced to 50mph. She told her case worker that, due to poor weather conditions at the time, she had struggled to slow down safely and that, to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of her, had taken evasive action and driven into a lane where cones and a traffic sign had been placed.

Ravindra admitted that she had made contact with several of the cones and, in fact, that the traffic sign had ended up embedded in her windscreen. Luckily, neither she nor her front seat passenger were injured. The car, however, was very damaged as a result.

Ravindra had explained to her case worker that she had felt so badly about what had happened that she had stood up in front of her college classmates and admitted her drink driving offence, as a warning to other people her age.

Ravindra, who shared with Forrest Williams that she has Asperger’s Syndrome, had saved hard to buy her own second-hand car and contribute financially towards the cost of her driving lessons, as she knew this additional expense would be very hard for her mother (a single parent) to meet.

The District Judge took into account all of the above and sentenced Ravindra to the minimum 12 month disqualification, with the completion of the drink drive rehabilitation course bringing this down to 9 months.


Ravindra, who attended court with her mother, was relieved and delighted. She said she had appreciated all the help received and that in future she would adopt a zero tolerance approach to drinking and driving.


If you have been charged with drink driving, call our expert team now on 01623 600645 or 0800 1933 999.



Drink Driving Mitigation To Reduce Length of Ban



Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams

Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams


Case Study: Drink Driving Mitigation To Reduce Length of Ban


At Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court this week, Robin Handley was pleasantly surprised to discover that he would not have to attend court on a separate occasion. His guilty plea was entered and he was sentenced at his initial hearing.


When he had first instructed Forrest Williams to prepare his case and represent him at his hearing, Robin had been duly warned by his case worker that the high breath reading (102) for his drink driving charge would likely mean that he would have to meet with probation services, who would prepare a report, before he could be sentenced by the court.


However, on the day of the hearing, the District Judge ordered a stand-down pre-sentencing report be completed, following which an oral report was presented to the court. The report recommended that a community order be made, with a requirement to complete unpaid work.


Robin’s community order was for 12 months, with order to complete 60 hours of unpaid work.


He was also disqualified from driving for a period of 24 months, which will be reduced by 25% on completion of the drink drive rehabilitation course.


Robin was philosophical about his drink driving charge, but pleased with the outcome.


He told his case worker that he had held his driving licence for just over 30 years and that his licence was clean. Further, he had never been disqualified from driving in the past.


That the drink driving charge was out of character was a fact Robin’s barrister stressed to the court when presenting mitigation.


Robin, who previously worked as a milk man, now has to live with the consequences of his decision to have a few drinks with colleagues after finishing his milk round. With the disqualification in place, he cannot continue in this line of work and will have to find alternative employment. He realises that, in his 50s, this will not be easy.


Robin thanked his case worker and his barrister for supporting him through a stressful and challenging process, and ensuring that he spent as little time as possible in a court room.


If you have been charged with drink driving, call our expert team now for impartial legal advice and specialist representation on 01623 600645.





Spiked Drinks Argument Successful: Client Not Guilty

Katie Forrest of Forrest Willliams

Katie Forrest of Forrest Williams

Spiked Drinks Argument Successful: Client Not Guilty

Unusually, it wasn’t Ana who contacted me about her drink driving case.  It was Geoff, the person who had spiked her drinks, causing her to be over the limit.

Geoff was very remorseful, and determined that Ana should receive the best legal representation to ensure that she was not disqualified from driving because of something he had done.

Geoff was happy to confirm exactly what had happened – how he had visited Ana as he knew she was recovering from dental surgery, how he had added alcohol to her drink to ‘cheer her up’, and how he had no idea she would be driving that night.

Ana herself didn’t know she would drive that night, but she woke up in so much pain she decided to go to the all-night pharmacy to get more medication.

On her journey, she was asked to pull over by the police as one of her brake lights didn’t work.  She was breathalysed, and over the limit.

Ana was facing a 12-16 month ban, through no fault of her own.

For a Court to allow a Special Reasons: Spiked Drinks argument, they must be satisfied that the defendant should not have realised they had drank the laced drinks.

In Ana’s case, her dental surgery was a very important part of the case.  It meant that she couldn’t taste anything, so had no idea that what she thought was a soft drink actually had alcohol in it.  And she was very groggy, so any physical sensations of inebriation would have been interpreted by her as being due to the surgery.

I explained the full procedure for a Special Reasons application to Ana, and guided her and Geoff through the case.  They were both very anxious about the situation as neither of them had had any dealings with the law.

At the Special Reasons hearing, both Ana and Geoff gave evidence well.  They were credible, with consistent accounts that stood up to cross-examination.

The magistrates did find Special Reasons, meaning that although Ana is convicted of the offence, she is not disqualified.

Ana was absolutely delighted and a very remorseful Geoff was incredibly relieved.

If you have been charged with drink driving, call our expert team now on 01623 600645.