Refusing to Give a Specimen of Breath, Blood or Urine

It is an offence under s6 (roadside) or 7(6) (police station) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to fail to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine without reasonable excuse after having driven or attempted to drive. The prosecution do not have to show that you were driving, just that they had grounds to believe you were and it was a lawful request. You would also be open to prosecution if you were in charge of a vehicle (such as supervising a learner).

Normally the charge will follow a positive roadside breath test, although failure to provide a specimen at the side of the road is sufficient. Following a positive roadside test you are taken to the police station for a full test, to confirm the levels of the reading. The most common test at the police station is blowing into a Lion Intoximeter, but the police can decide which specimen they wish to take. You are then under an obligation to co-operate with this. You are not entitled to refuse to give a specimen until you have obtained legal advice or negotiate on the type of specimen to be given.

Do I need an NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) for refusing to provide a specimen?

No, there is no requirement for an NIP for refusing to provide a specimen.


Up to 6 months in prison and a fine up to £5000.

3-11 penalty points for refusing at the police station, 4 penalty points for refusing a roadside test and 10 when in charge of the vehicle.

Revocation of your licence for a minimum period of 12 months (18 months being the usual starting point and 3 years being possible) with a possibility of a re-test, unless it was at the roadside where there is a complete discretion.

There is a real risk of custody or a community punishment in these cases.


You are generally treated the same as if you were drink driving, the presumption being that your refusal was due to the fact that you were over the limit. Where faced with this charge we recommend you seek prompt legal advice. Defences can range from challenges to the procedure applied to showing that there was a good reason not to provide the specimen (such as asthma or a panic attack) .

Related Offences

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