Refusing to Provide a Sample

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It is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 to refuse or fail to provide a sample for analysis when requested to do so by the police. The offence does not need to be committed while driving a vehicle and can result in various penalties if you are found guilty. If charged with failing to provide a specimen, it is important that you seek independent legal advice from reputable solicitors. Our team at Keith Tuck Solicitors have a wealth of experience in successfully defending those charged with the offence of refusing to provide a sample.

The Law

The law relating to failing or refusing to provide a sample is found under sections 6 and 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The legislation states it to be an offence where a person does not provide a sample when requested to do so by the police, without providing a reasonable excuse.

The offence can take place both at the roadside or at the police station. While the initial sample requested will normally be a sample of breath to detect alcohol, it can also be a blood or urine sample.  The person asked to provide the sample does not get a choice in terms of the type of sample they are to provide. They cannot opt to avoid the breath test for a blood sample. The choice of sample is at the discretion of a police officer however the starting point is normally the breath test.

Furthermore, there is no requirement that it be the driver who is asked to provide a sample if the police suspect that the passenger had been driving while impaired at some point.

Reasonable excuse

What is deemed to be a reasonable excuse depends on the facts of the case. However common reasonable excuses that may be accepted include health conditions such as asthma or breathing problems. However, medical evidence must be shown in relation to this.


The penalties for failing to provide a specimen are broken down into two categories depending on where the offence took place. If you failed to provide a specimen at the roadside then the court can award a fine of up to £1,000, penalty points and a driving disqualification.

If the failure to provide a specimen was at the police station, then a disqualification is mandatory. The court can also use a fine and community service as a means of punishment. In some cases, a custodial sentence of six months is possible. 

Specialist Road Traffic Defence Solicitors

Keith Tuck Solicitors have years of experience in defending those charged with road traffic including failing to provide a sample. Our solicitors listen to your side of things and advise on the best way to proceed. In the event of being found guilty they will put across your circumstances to minimise any penalty awarded and the effects they could have on your personal and professional life.  Contact our team to arrange an appointment via our online contact form or calling us on 0141 336 2020

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