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I’ve Been Caught Drink Driving What Will Happen?

If you’ve provided a specimen of breath and that specimen has exceeded the legal limit you will normally be charged i.e. given a charge sheet containing details of the offence (date, place you were arrested). Before you’re released from custody you will have signed a Recognisance form.

The Recognisance form is essentially a promise by you to appear in court at a certain date (it’ll be written on the sheet). You must sign it. If you refuse, the Gardai will hold you in the cell overnight and bring you to court the following day.

The vast majority of people sign this form. It is not an admission of guilt in any way: it is just a promise by you to turn up to court.

That is all. You must appear in court on the future date as otherwise a warrant for your arrest will almost certainly be issued.

Your next step is to seek legal advice, unless you intend representing yourself, which very few people do for obvious reasons.

Don’t worry, the case will not be fully dealt with on the first day in court. What is almost certainly going to happen is that the Judge will order that the Garda evidence (otherwise known as disclosure) is sent to your solicitor and the Judge will normally adjourn the case for between 4-6 weeks to allow this disclosure order to be complied with and for you and your solicitor to examine it.

So you do have time.

If you provided a blood or urine specimen, then the process takes a good deal longer to get to court. Unlike a breath specimen which provides a reading there and then in the Garda station, specimens of blood or urine cannot be analysed in a Garda station.

These specimens must be posted to the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, which operates out of the Health Sciences Centre at University College Dublin.

The specimen of blood or urine is usually analysed for the presence of alcohol within 3-4 days of receipt by the Medical Bureau. However, many specimens are also analysed for the presence of drugs and this process takes longer.

The analysis of the blood or urine specimen for a drug or drugs is complex and requires considerably more time than for the analysis of alcohol in the blood or urine specimen. The analysis for alcohol in the blood/urine specimen usually takes a number of days. The analysis for drugs in blood/urine specimen usually takes weeks or months.

When the specimens are received, they are examined to ensure that the integrity of the specimen hasn’t been compromised.

Once satisfied that this is the case the specimens are collected into bottles containing a preservative and always stored in refrigerators, when not being handled for analysis.

Many drugs (cocaine, benzodiazepines, amphetamines etc) are stable under these conditions for at least 4 months.

Once the specimen has been examined for drugs a certificate is issued if any drug has been discovered. This certificate (known as a section 17 certificate) is printed on green paper and will contain details of your name, address, date of birth, what specimen you provided (blood or urine), what Garda station the specimen was taken in and the date and time the specimen was taken at.

At part 5 of this form the following words appear: “The Medical Bureau of Road Safety certifies that on analysis by the Bureau the specimen to which the above particulars relate contained...”

If any drug has been detected in the blood specimen it will appear here.

After some period (it's not clearly defined) the Garda who arrested you will apply to have a summons issued against you. This must (application for the summons) be done within 6 calendar months of the date of the offence. Once the Guard applies for the summons a summons is generated and is later served on you.

As with the breath specimen scenario above, if you receive a summons to appear in court you should seek legal advice quickly.

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