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NEW: Arrested for drink driving and given car keys back. Does that mean the Police think I wasn’t drunk?




LET’S GET RID OF ONE old wives’ tale I keep hearing. The idea is -and I’ve heard this from a lot of clients- that if they were as drunk as the police think they were they wouldn’t have been given their car keys back when leaving the station. Right?


Wrong.


When you were arrested, you were brought to the police station. When you entered the station, you were introduced to another police officer. He or she was probably seated behind a desk. They are the Member-In-Charge.



After all, you don’t want to be arrested
twice on the same night for drink driving do you?
And yes, that has happened…

The Member-in-Charge (MIC) is responsible for your welfare while you are under arrest. They will you why you have been arrested and your entitlement to contact a solicitor or family member.  


They’ll be filling out a book. This is the custody record. They’ll enter your details: your name, date of birth, address, height etc.


Once the specimen of breath, blood or urine has been taken, you’ll generally be released from custody. This depends on your level of intoxication.


If you’re still “drunk and a danger to yourself or others” you won’t be released from custody. You’ll be kept until you have either sobered up or a friend or relative has arrived at the station to pick you up.


This is a safety mechanism. Nobody wants to see you stagger out of the station and into the path of a car after all.


But most people are released very soon after having provided the specimen. At this point the Member-in-Charge will then return all the property that was initially taken from them.

All the property means all the property.


That includes your car keys.


Why are they giving you back your keys? Because keys are also property and the police do not have any legal authority to hold onto your property once you have been released from custody.






The important point to remember here is that when the police are returning your property, that is all that they are doing: returning your property.



You’ll be kept until you have either sobered up
or a friend or relative has arrived at the station
to pick you up.
Nobody wants to see you stagger out of the station
and into the path of a car after all.


WHEN THEY RETURN YOUR car keys to you, this is not a admission by them that maybe you weren’t as drunk or as impaired as they thought when they arrested you.


Neither is it confirmation by them that you are in some way now fit to drive.


The return of your car keys to you is merely a return of your property, not an invitation to drive again.


Best to leave the car where it is and come back tomorrow to pick it up.


After all, you don’t want to be arrested twice on the same night for drink driving do you?


And yes, that has happened…

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