Drink-driving and Perverting the Course of Justice

The Court of Final Appeal has upheld a conviction for perverting the course of justice where, following a road traffic accident, the passenger of the vehicle went to a nearby store to purchase beer which she then poured into the mouth of the driver of the vehicle who was suspected of drink-driving. The passenger argued on appeal:

(1) that her act of providing beer to the driver did not in any way tamper with the accuracy of the breath alcohol test. It was submitted that there was no evidence to show the accuracy of the breath test was in any way compromised and that the applicant’s act did not affect the accuracy of the test or amount to a tampering with the test itself. The CFA found that the effect of providing the beer was to render the subsequent reading of the breath test inaccurate or unreliable as a reflection of the driver’s actual breath alcohol level at the time of the alleged offence.

(2) that the provision of the beer took place during the investigative process and not the course of justice, so that the offence of attempting to pervert the course of justice was not made out. The CFA said that “the course of prosecuting a drink driving offence is well-known and begins with an initial breath test to determine the level of alcohol in the driver’s breath”. The driver had been informed, in the presence of the passenger, that he was to be subjected to a breath test at the scene of the traffic accident. In these circumstances, the CFA was satisfied that there was a clear link between the provision of the beer and the relevant curial proceedings that would result from the police investigation.