Spiked Drinks

The so called ‘spiked drinks defence’ relates to cases of driving (or being in charge) with excess alcohol and strictly speaking is not a defence at all but rather a special reason. It refers to circumstances in which a driver, driving a vehicle with alcohol in excess of the permitted limit, has only done so because of additional alcohol consumed by them without their knowledge. Normally this additional alcohol will come from the drivers’ drink having been laced or ‘spiked’ with alcohol over and above that which the driver knew they were consuming. It is referred to as a defence because if run successfully it has the same effect as a defence; that is of avoiding disqualification, but strictly speaking is a special reason and for those interested in the precise definition of special reason see the related article specifically dealing with special reasons generally.

To succeed in a special reason of spiked drinks the driver must show three things to the Courts satisfaction:-

1. That the driver consumed alcohol unknowingly, usually because another individual has put additional alcohol in their drink or has given them an alcoholic drink in the place of a non alcoholic drink.

2. That but for the additional amount of alcohol consumed the driver would not have been in excess of the prescribed limit, this is absolutely vital, there is no point in persuading a Court that additional alcohol was consumed unknowingly if the driver would still have been over the limit in any event. In order to prove this point it will almost invariably be necessary to obtain an expert medical report confirming that but for the presence of the additional alcohol the driver would have been below the legal limit at the time of driving.

3. That the driver was unaware of the true circumstances, Courts have proved reluctant to exercise their discretion to find special reasons not to disqualify in circumstances where drivers have persuaded the Court that they consumed alcohol unknowingly but failed to persuade the Court that they should not have been aware that something was wrong. The higher the alcohol reading the more difficult it will be to persuade a Court that the driver was unaware that they were intoxicated and should not drive.

It is very difficult to successfully run a spiked drinks case although not impossible. Evidence must be adduced to a Court in relation to all of the three vital points above and that will almost certainly require evidence from the driver, from the person who gave them the additional alcohol and also from a relevant expert confirming but for the additional amount of alcohol the driver would have been below the prescribed limit.