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Breath Tests

Volume 170: debated on Thursday 19 April 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances a breath test may be administered by the police other than those listed in his answer of 21 March, Official Report, column 635; and what was the total number of such breath tests administered in 1988 and 1989.

In addition to the circumstances set out in the reply given on 21 March by my right hon. and learned Friend to my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) at column 635, a constable in uniform may require a person to provide a breath test where he has reasonable cause to suspect that that person has committed a moving traffic offence, or reasonable cause to believe that that person has been involved in an accident.Breath tests are recorded under two headings according to the reason for the test:

  • (i) where there is suspicion of consumption of alcohol or suspicion of a moving traffic offence; and,
  • (ii) where an accident has occurred.
  • In 1988, 443,000 breath tests were recorded. Of these, 365,000 were in the first category and 78,000 in the second category. In the most recent 12 months for which statistics are available (to September 1989), 502,000 tests were recorded. Of these, 403,000 were in the first category and 99,000 in the second category. Statistics for the fourth quarter of 1989 are not yet available.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there are plans to conduct a publicity campaign to explain to the motoring public the full powers available to the police to stop and breath-test drivers.

    The Government will continue to support the full use by the police of the powers available to them, including during our regular campaigns against drinking and driving. These powers have been explained on many occasions, most recently in the reply given by my right hon. and learned Friend to my hon. Friend on 21 March at column 635. We do not consider that a further specific publicity campaign is necessary.