Not In Proper Control – Drinking A Milkshake

Question:

On Sunday x, I was driving to x after a strenuous dancing class in x. I popped into the McDonalds’ Drive-through on x Road and bought a milkshake. As I approached the traffic lights at the junction of x Way and x the lights changed to red and I slowed down as I got closer to them (traveling at less than 15mph).

It was at this point I had a sip through the straw of my milkshake. The lights changed to green, I put my drink down and continued driving. It wasn’t until I had almost reached my destination x Avenue that the police 4×4 following, flashed me and indicated for me to stop. This I did. A little confused as to why.

A single big burly policeman came over to my car and asked me to turn my engine off and get out of the car. He asked for my driving license which I gave him. He then escorted me to his 4×4 and told me to get in. I was feeling very scared and intimidated, not knowing what I had done wrong!

He told me he had seen me drinking whilst driving and was therefore going to breathalyse me. I couldn’t believe it! I’d only had one sip of a milkshake whilst still in control of my car. Of course the breathalyser proved negative.

He then told me I had a choice. Did I want points on my license? I was so shocked and very worried I replied no. He then said I would have to pay and go on a course to remind me of how important it is to stay in control of my car. He asked me where I was going and I said to a friends’ house. He then made light of the fact that my friends might be looking out of the window wondering what I’d done wrong.

Still very shaken and now crying, I drove to my friends and told them what had happened.

As a 19 year old girl, I felt totally intimidated and very scared. I felt very uncomfortable getting into his police car with him, alone. Surely this is out of order? My parents are incensed with the whole procedure and have advised me to write to you in the hope that you see how nonsensical this is.

I have never had any dealings with the police before and am now very scared to ever drive my car again. I need my car to get to my job in x. I’m only a teaching assistant, so cannot afford this fine of £74 to go on a course, but neither do I want to go to court and have penalty points on my otherwise clean license. I feel like a criminal, for taking one sip of a milkshake.

What should/could I do?

Emma Says:

You have to decide whether or not you were still in proper control of the vehicle. If you think that you were then you should reject the course. You will then get a summons to court and you will have to try and cast a doubt on the officer’s evidence. The officer will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were not in proper control.

If you lose at court you will be at risk of much higher fines and court costs and they will probably total a good few hundred pounds.

If money is a real issue then I would suggest that you consider swallowing your pride the taking the ticket. At court if you admit having a drink as you were slowing down the the court may feel that you must have taken your eyes off the road.

I agree that the officer has been really harsh and over the top but he will probably win at court and then you will end up even worse off.

If you want my help and you want me to try and defend the matter then come back to me and I will happy to assist further, but please bear in mind that I charge for my services.

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