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Thinking of Arguing Your Drinks Were Spiked? Think Again…

April 6, 2016 by in category Drink Driving, Drug Driving, News with 0 and 0
Home > News > Drink Driving > Thinking of Arguing Your Drinks Were Spiked? Think Again…
spiked drinks

Guest post by Ellie Taylor

The likes of Rebel Wilson and Vicky Pattinson have recently spoken out about their experiences of being spiked and highlighting the dangers they faced. However, there are actually no reliable statistics for how many people have experienced the phenomenon of ‘spiked drinks’ as many cases are unreported. Independent Newspaper, The Tab recently undertook a survey that claimed out of 1,100 female respondents, 55% said they had been spiked.

Penalty for Spiking

The reasons for spiking someone’s drink may vary – from a practical joke to something far more threatening. The penalty, however, does not. It is a criminal offence for spiking someone’s drink for which you can face a custodial sentence of up to 10 years.

If your drink has been spiked this is NOT a Defence to drink driving

Many people are under the misapprehension that it is a defence to a drink drive charge to say that you were unaware of your drinks being spiked putting you over the limit. This could be argued as a “special reason” why not to impose the usual mandatory minimum penalty for drink driving (12 month ban) but even if a special reason is accepted by the court this does not prevent you from receiving a criminal record and many other consequences that follow a drink drive conviction. We usually dissuade people from arguing this special reason because unlike our extremely high success rates for full defences to drink driving cases, the special reason of spiked drinks rarely succeeds in court.

What you must prove if arguing your drinks were spiked:

Alcohol

Alcohol is a common and easy way to be a victim of a spiked drink. Adding alcohol to a weak alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink can sometimes be undetectable depending on the sweetness or flavour of the drink.

Drugs

Tasteless drugs can be added to a victims drink undetectable. These drugs often don’t kick in straight away but can cause instant effects when they do start reacting with the body.

Common drugs used for spiking drinks are as follows:

  • Rohypnol was made ‘popular’ by the movie Hangover, however this drug is no joke the effects of Rohypnol appear 15 to 20 minutes after administration and last approximately four to six hours. It is unlikely that you will wake up on top of a hotel in Las Vegas if you are spiked with this drug – the consequences are often much sinister.
  • GHB is liquid ecstasy produces a feeling of euphoria and can reduce inhibitions and cause sleepiness. It can be fatal and is particularly dangerous when used with alcohol and other depressant or sedative substances.

You must prove that you did not know or suspect that your drink was spiked

If you knew you were spiked this will go down like a lead balloon! If were aware of the alcohol/drug intake even if it was not voluntary but then voluntarily got into a car while intoxicated, you cannot legitimately argue that you have the special reason of spiked drinks.

You must prove that if your drink had not been spiked, then you would have been below the drink drive limit.

If you have consumed alcohol or drugs before you were spiked that would still have resulted in you being over the limit at the time of driving then this would not be accepted as a special reason.

The court will have to be satisfied that you should not have realised that you were over the limit.

If you are found to be very much in excess of the drink drive limit, even if you were drinking soft drinks all night, the court are likely to reject the suggestion that you were unaware of being over the limit. Unless you can demonstrate an extremely high tolerance to alcohol, then most people will know when they feel under the influence. If you have a high alcohol tolerance, then this creates other problems with credibility issues.

What you should do if you believe you have been spiked

If you believe you have been spiked on a night out it is important that you alert someone you trust. You should not attempt to drive or get a taxi alone as the side effects of the alcohol/drug may be unknown.

You should go to hospital to ensure that you are in no danger, particularly if you have been spiked with a drug as the side effects can be fatal. A hospital attendance could also assist in terms of corroborating your account that you believe you were spiked.

Arguing special reasons in court

The courts usually require corroborative evidence to prove that a victim’s drink was spiked in motoring law cases:

  • Expert evidence would be required to prove that the drug or alcohol used would have put the victim not only over the limit but at the exact level the police measured in her breath.
  • Witness Statements from people who were with the victim to confirm any alcohol or drug that the victim knowingly consumed.
  • If friends have spiked your drink, then their evidence confessing to the spiking can make all the difference but then this leaves them open to prosecution themselves.

Tips to prevent your drink from being spiked?

  1. Never leave your drink unattended
  2. If someone offers to buy you a drink keep your eye on the server and take the drink directly from them. Only take drinks from people you trust.
  3. Avoid sharing drinks with other people.
  4. Chose unopened bottles or cans over drinks in glasses
  5. Spikey – a stopper for bottles to prevent drugs and alcohol being slipped into the drink.
  6. Get in the habit of covering the top of your drink with your hand.
  7. Look for signs of tampering. Slight changes of colour, excess fizziness or an off taste can all be signs that your drink has been spiked.

If you are in any doubt your drink has been spiked stop drinking it immediately.

More Information?

If you believe you have had your drink spiked and you are now facing a drink driving or other motoring charge please call 0800 1389 123 or alternatively find further information on our website.

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