Drug Testing for Drug Driving Offences

Forensic Samples in Drink Driving Cases

Randox Laboratories have been in the news frequently over the past couple of years and I have written various pieces about what has happened myself.

In what has been called “the biggest forensic science scandal in the UK for decades”, The National Police Chiefs Council (NCPCC) have identified that around 10,000 cases involving forensic samples may have been manipulated and the majority of them are in road traffic cases.

The Crown Prosecution Service has been forced to write to thousands of convicted motorists informing them that their conviction may be unsafe. If you are one of them, what can or should you do?

What Is the Scandal?

Concerns from Road Traffic Lawyers about how forensic samples were handled/analysed in criminal cases is not a new issue. It is one we have raised ourselves in countless cases (particularly those involving drink or drug driving) over the past couple of years. An investigation was eventually opened into exactly how Randox laboratories were testing their samples in certain cases.

The most alarming aspect of the scandal is that the BBC reported in 2017 that approximately 10,000 samples had been tested incorrectly and yet the police were using the results of these tests to charge motorists with criminal offences. Further, the unsuspecting motorist had no idea what was going on behind the scenes and, placing their trust in the police, assumed the results must be accurate and so pleaded guilty without ever seeking legal advice.  

Those you did seek legal advice often went on to challenge the case and many were successful but unfortunately, a huge portion of the defendants were convicted as a result of forensic results that had effectively been tampered with. The most common cases affected by this scandal were those of drink driving and drug driving as these are often cases that involve taking a sample of blood for analysis.

The majority of samples were tested effectively and the problem was specific to one particular lab called Randox Testing Services (RTS) but not all police forces use that lab for forensic testing.

How Can I Know if I Was Wrongly Convicted?

The first step would be to ascertain which laboratory conducted the analysis of your blood or urine sample before 2017 and this will be contained in any documentation you or your representatives received at the time.

If you or your solicitor does not have the paperwork, then you will need to contact the police force that charged you with the offence or your local Crown Prosecution Service.

If your case was possibly affected then you should be written to but they are prioritising what they consider the most serious cases. Given the volume of cases that will need to see the sample re-tested, it may be some time before you are contacted and the whole process is expected to take up to 3 years.

If you are contacted about a potentially unsafe conviction you should speak to a road traffic specialist who may be able to assist you in overturning the original conviction.

Should I Bother Challenging It?

If you have already served your sentence then overturning the conviction may not be worth it. The same may be said if you numerous other convictions as being able to cancel one of them may not make a huge amount of difference.

That said, there are many good reasons to justify challenging the conviction such as removing the criminal record which may make it easier to secure employment. Lifting restrictions on travel may also be of benefit as well as the fact that your insurance may be more expensive as a result of the conviction.

If you need further advice then please take advantage of our free advice service and we would be happy to discuss this with you.

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