Failing to Provide a Specimen

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Failing to Provide a Specimen

If you are stopped in your car by the police and are unable to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine, the consequences can be very serious and it’s important you seek expert legal help. The team at JMW is highly experienced in helping people facing such allegations build a strong defence to increase the likelihood of any punishment being reduced or even dropped.

To get in touch with our experienced motoring solicitors, call us on 0345 872 6666 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of our team will give you a call back.

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Is Failing to Provide a Specimen a Criminal Offence?

Failing to provide a specimen is seen by the courts as a serious criminal offence. Often linked with drink driving convictions, this can make specimen failure lead to some harsh penalties.

The law regarding failing to provide a specimen - of breath after being stopped by police at the roadside, or breath, blood or urine later on at the police station - means that a driver can be accused of the offence if they refuse a police officer's request to do so without a reasonable excuse.

If you’ve been accused of failing to provide a specimen, our experts will be able to assist you in contesting the charges.

Can you get away with failing to provide a specimen?

If the police officers that pull you over ask you to provide a specimen, you must do so by law. If you are found guilty of trying to avoid doing so without an acceptable reason, you may face fines, disqualification from driving, and even imprisonment in more serious cases. An expert solicitor can help you to understand whether you have a valid reason for avoiding a test and may be able to help you reduce or even remove your sentence.

What Are Considered Reasonable Excuses for Not Providing a Specimen?

There are a number of reasons that constitute a reasonable excuse in the eyes of the courts and could therefore help to reduce or remove your penalty. These include:

  • A medical condition - a reasonable excuse could be a medical condition suffered by the driver, although this would have to be backed up with expert evidence.
  • A mental health condition - this may be a pre-existing condition, or one brought about by the circumstances of the situation.
  • Police behaviour and procedural errors - failure in the testing of equipment or following proper procedures by a police officer may also mean the case will not go to court or can be contested. Equally, after asking someone to take a test, the police must explain that failure to do so may lead to prosecution. If this warning is not given, the driver will not have committed an offence.
  • A phobia of needles - if a blood test is requested by police, a reasonable excuse for not complying could be a genuine phobia of needles. However, if the case is taken to court for assessment, you will need to be able to back this up with medical evidence.

What Are Not Considered Reasonable Excuses for Not Providing a Specimen?

Meanwhile, there are a number of arguments that are not accepted by the court, including:

  • Belief that you were not over the limit - your personal belief that you were not over the legal alcohol or drug limit is unlikely to be considered a reasonable excuse for failing to provide a specimen.
  • Personal or work commitments - the inconvenience of the test or the impact it might have on personal or work commitments is unlikely to be considered a reasonable excuse.
  • Preference for a particular type of test - if you refuse to provide one type of specimen (e.g. breath) but offer another (e.g. blood), this is unlikely to be accepted as a reasonable excuse if the police has specific reasons for requesting a particular type of test.
  • Disagreement with the reason for testing - if you disagree with the police's reason for requesting the specimen, perhaps because you don't believe they had reasonable grounds to suspect you of a drink or drug driving offence, this is unlikely to be accepted as a reasonable excuse.

Before deciding to dispute your charges, you should consult with a solicitor who will help you to fully understand your potential failing to provide a specimen defences.

What is the Maximum Sentence for Failing to Provide a Specimen?

If you are found guilty of failing to provide a specimen, your punishment can vary depending on the circumstances. It can include an unlimited fine of £5,000 and a minimum driving ban of 12 months, although if you have been convicted of a drink driving or alcohol-related offence in the last 10 years, the minimum driving ban increases to three years.

In the most serious of cases involving a failure to provide a sample, you could be facing a prison sentence of up to six months. Given the significant penalties for an offence that may not seem all that serious at first, it is essential you seek expert legal help to make sure you are not punished unnecessarily.

What is the Process for Pleading Not Guilty to Failing to Provide a Specimen?

If recommended by your solicitor, you may want to plead not guilty. The process of doing so typically follows this process:

  1. Enter your plea: at your first court hearing, you will be asked to enter a plea. If you plead not guilty, the case will be scheduled for trial where you will need to explain your reasons
  2. Pre-trial preparations: your solicitor will gather evidence, consult with any necessary experts (such as medical professionals if a medical defence is being raised) and prepare your argument
  3. Trial: at the trial, both you and the prosecution will present evidence and arguments. You may be called to testify, and other witnesses may also be questioned, but your solicitor will be able to present your evidence on your behalf
  4. Verdict: after considering the evidence, the magistrates or jury (depending on the court) will deliver a verdict. If you are found not guilty, your charges will be dropped. If you are found guilty, the court will proceed to sentencing
  5. Appeal: if you believe there was a legal error in your trial, you may have the right to appeal the conviction or the sentence. However, you should never do this without your solicitor's agreement, so seek legal advice before making any challenging decisions

Why Choose JMW?

The specialist motoring solicitors at JMW can provide the expert guidance you need to ensure you are in the best possible position to contest a failure to provide a specimen charge. We are experienced in cases of this type and will explore every possible defence to help you secure the outcome you’re after.

JMW has been accredited by The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners guide as one of the UK's top law firms. We are known for our professional and proactive approach and will support you from the start of any proceedings through to the finish.



You can be charged with failing to provide a specimen even if you were not driving under the influence. The offence relates to failing to comply with the request for a specimen, not the underlying reason for the request. If the police have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have been driving or attempting to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may request a specimen.


Your solicitor may be able to arrange a plea bargain by arguing your case. However, this is not common practice in the UK regarding specimen offences.

In some cases where mitigating circumstances are relevant, the court may offer to reduce a sentence, but this will depend on factors like the strength of the evidence and the specific facts of the case.

You should consult with a legal professional to understand whether this is a possibility before making any decisions.

Talk to Us

For more information and legal advice on failing to provide a specimen and to get your defence off to the best possible start, contact JMW today. Do so by either calling us on 0345 872 6666 or by completing our online enquiry form, which will enable us to give you a call back at a convenient time.