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Robinson v Director of Public Prosecutions, Divisional Court, 3 November 2003

17 November 2003
The issues

Road traffic – drink driving – mistake.

The facts

The Defendant was convicted at Thames Magistrates Court of driving with a proportion of alcohol in his breath exceeding the prescribed limit. He had pleaded guilty but asserted a special reason not to disqualify him. He stated that he was a Rastafarian, who did not drink and that he had been at a social drink and had drunk what he thought was non-alcoholic fruit punch, but which in fact contained alcohol. The Magistrate found that the Defendant had a positive duty to enquire as to the content of the punch and had failed to do so. The Defendant appealed, arguing that he had no such positive duty.

The decision

1. The Court would proceed on the basis that the Defendant was as a matter of fact unaware that the punch contained alcohol.

2. A driver who assumed that a drink at a social event did not contain alcohol took a risk. In putting forward mitigation, a driver had to show that he had done all that could reasonably be expected to avoid committing an offence. There was force in the argument that there was a duty on a person to enquire as to the content of a drink if it might contain alcohol and that person intended to drive.

Appeal dismissed.

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