Section 5 RTA Blood Alcohol Test
The section 5 RTA blood alcohol test is used to test a police sample that has been given to people who are accused of drink-driving. Please do not open the sealed bag that you have been given.
After ordering this section 5 RTA blood alcohol test, you will receive a confirmation message with a map and directions attached. You can then go to Patient Reception at The Doctors Laboratory to hand over your sample to our staff so that it can be tested; no appointment is necessary. The laboratory is open 7am – 7pm weekdays and 7am-5pm on Saturdays.
Results Take: Up to 15 working days *
Section 5 RTA blood alcohol test results are usually available within 15 working days* and will be e-mailed to you with an interpretation of the meaning.
* Indicative timings only. Actual result may be earlier or slightly later.
Section 5 RTA 1988 - Driving or being in charge with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit
Section 5 RTA 1988 sets out this offence and provides a defence.
A person who drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, or is in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit is guilty of an offence.
In relation to being in charge of a motor vehicle, a person is not guilty if he proves that the circumstances were such that there was no likelihood of his driving the vehicle whilst the proportion of alcohol in his breath, blood or urine exceeded the prescribed limit.
Section 5A RTA 1988 - Driving or being in charge with concentration of specified controlled drug above specified limit
The offence at s. 5A RTA 1988 is driving, attempting to drive or being in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified controlled drug in the blood or urine in excess of the specified limit for that drug. It is a summary only offence that came into force on 2 March 2015. It brings enforcement of drug driving into line with that of drink driving, by introducing a strict liability offence to avoid the need to prove impairment. It seeks to enable more effective law enforcement to take place, with the aim of improving road safety by deterring potential drug drivers and bringing more drug drivers to justice.
A ‘controlled drug’ is stated at s.11 RTA 1988 to have the meaning given by s.2 Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. A “controlled drug” is any substance or product for the time being specified in Part I, II or III of Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Section 5A(1)(b) and (2) RTA 1988 provides for an offence of driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with a proportion of a specified controlled drug above the specified limit.
Section 5A(3) RTA 1988 provides a defence if a specified controlled drug is prescribed or supplied in accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and taken in accordance with medical advice. Section 5A(4) RTA 1988 confirms that the defence is not available if medical advice about not driving for a certain period of time after taking the drug has not been followed. There is no reverse burden of proof. If a defendant raises this, the Court must assume that the defence is satisfied, unless the prosecution proves beyond reasonable doubt that it is not. The offence in S.4 RTA 1988 applies to those whose driving is impaired by specified controlled drugs taken in such circumstances. Section 4 RTA 1988 also applies to those whose driving is impaired by drugs that are not specified for the purposes of the offence.
Given that a defendant may have a medical reason for one drug but not another, it would be sensible to charge each drug offence separately; furthermore, as outlined below, given that the limits are different for each drug, there should be separate charges for each individual drug in any event.
Section 5A(6) RTA 1988 provides a defence to being in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified controlled drug in the blood or urine above the specified limit for that drug, if the defendant can show that there was no likelihood of him driving the vehicle while over the specified limit. This is similar to the defence in s. 5(2) RTA 1988.
Section 5A (2) RTA 1988 states that the specimen will be blood or urine. However, as there are no specified limits set for drugs in urine, the specimen has to be blood, and this is reflected in police procedure. If the suspect refuses, without reasonable excuse to provide a specimen of blood, the appropriate charge will be one of "Failure to provide" contrary to s.7(6) RTA 1988. A s.5A RTA 1988 offence cannot be prosecuted if the suspect has a genuine medical reason for failing to provide a specimen of blood. This would not preclude the continuation of evidence gathering for a s.4 RTA 1988, as the requirement for the presence of a drug does not need to exceed a limit and the drug can be discovered in specimens of urine. This is why police will investigate both offences where evidence of impairment is available.
Section 5A(8) RTA 1988 provides a regulation-making power to specify which controlled drugs are covered by the offence, and the specified limit in relation to each. Section 5A(2) allows different specified limits to be set for different controlled drugs. Specified limits could be set based on evidence of the road safety risk posed by driving after taking the drug, or based on an approach whereby it is not acceptable to drive after taking any appreciable amount of the drug. Section 5A(9) RTA 1988 provides that specified limits could be zero.
Regulation 2 of the Drug Driving (Specified Limits) (England and Wales) Regulations 2014 specifies the controlled drugs (within the meaning given by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971) and the limits in blood above which it will be an offence to drive. Regulation 2 has been amended to include amphetamine.
There are currently 17 drugs listed in the related Drug Driving (Specified Limits) (England and Wales) Regulations 2014 and the Drug Driving (Specified Limits) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2015. The levels have been set and stated in the regulations. They are based on figures from a panel of experts that has considered such factors as "accidental exposure". It is important to note that this offence is not a "zero tolerance" offence, as the limits for the illegal drugs are low but with sufficient tolerance to allow for accidental exposure.
If a blood specimen has been taken, the police will ensure that it is stored, packaged and transported in the appropriate way. This is especially important in circumstances where cannabinoids are involved, as the breakdown rate is very fast. The sample should ideally be taken within one hour, in order to be reflective of the level at the time of the offence. The specimen of blood taken will be divided and one part provided to the suspect if requested. The suspect will be given a leaflet as to what he must do with this sample to maintain its integrity. There may be challenges to the suspect’s specimen, as the concentration will reduce if it is not kept refrigerated.
The testing of both specimens must be at an accredited laboratory to ensure that the criminal justice system can be satisfied whether a person is above the specified limit. The testing is based on the same methodology as for alcohol. This is in order to allow for margins of error. The testing of specimens must be at an accredited laboratory to ensure that the criminal justice system can be satisfied whether a person is above the specified limit. Guidance issued by the Home Office and the office of the Forensic Science regulator requires analysts to allow a margin of error and the level reported will allow for that.
The Forensic Science Regulator, together with accredited Forensic Science Providers, has developed a standard approach as to how measurement uncertainty should be accounted for when reporting analyses in support of the s. 5A offence.
The Forensic Science Regulator has also published guidance on the comparison of analytical results to limits created under the provisions of s. 5A RTA 1988.
Consideration as to whether to pursue two or more charges will depend on the circumstances of the case. High readings, in relation to two or more drugs, may well justify the pursuit of two or more charges, particularly if the consequences of any driving were serious. However, there will be cases in which the Court may well look to impose a nominal penalty for a second drug, so there will be cases in which a plea to one charge will suffice.
As there are different limits for different drugs, a charge that included two or more drugs would arguably be bad for duplicity. Therefore, there should be separate charges for separate drugs.
The Sentencing Council has produced guidance, in the absence of a definitive sentencing guideline, to assist those sentencing offences under s. 5A RTA Act 1988. The guidance includes aggravating and mitigating factors, as well as factors that increase or reduce the seriousness of the offence.
If the Defendant accepts the presence of alcohol or another specified drug, this information can be placed before the Court and taken into consideration. It should be noted that if the presence of another specified drug or alcohol is likely to impact on sentence, the public interest is likely to favour an additional charge.