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When, why and how to seek alcohol technical defence reports?

January 01 2015

Forensic Science Interpreting The Evidence

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Alcohol & Drink Driving

Each year in the UK thousands of road accidents are caused by drunk drivers. Accordingly, those charged with drink-driving are subject to public condemnation and, if found guilty, lose their licence and may lose their livelihood. In some instances though, mitigating circumstances could allow a valid challenge to a prosecution in a case of post-incident drinking; or special reasons might persuade a court not to disqualify a driver already convicted. An alcohol technical defence (ATD) report, often termed a BAC (blood/breath alcohol concentration) calculation report, can be essential to support these arguments.

An ATD report uses established methods to calculate a person’s likely alcohol level at a relevant time, whether that is the time of driving or an intended driving time. The scientist needs a complete record of the type of drinks the driver consumed and when, along with their height, weight and gender. Of critical importance is the accuracy of the driver’s recollections. Where an ATD report demonstrates this to be consistent with the evidential breath/blood/urine test, the court is best placed to consider the reliability of the driver’s account.

The ATD report relies on scientific data, including studies of rates of alcohol metabolism in the body. Since alcohol metabolism can be affected by certain medications, any medicines consumed by the driver should also be advised to your scientist. Additionally, the degree of intoxication experienced can vary between novice and regular drinkers. The question of a driver’s reasonable expectation in special reasons defences, therefore, may also need to be addressed.

This Christmas, don’t drink and drive; but if one of your clients finds themselves the wrong side of the breathalyser, there may be arguments to make in their defence.

We have alcohol technical defence experts based in Durham and Huntingdon who would be happy to advise on your case.


Jennefer Gray
BSc(Hons), MSc, TIFireE, MRSC

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