Evidential roadside breath testing could soon become a reality and would eliminate the need to take suspected drink drivers to the police station in order to obtain an evidential specimen of breath.
Currently, only preliminary breath tests can be performed at the roadside.
Preliminary breath tests are used to give police officers a reliable indication as to whether or not a suspected drink driver is over the legal limit.
The readings preliminary breath tests produce do not meet home office evidential requirements.
If a suspect fails a preliminary breath test they will be arrested and taken to the police station where they will be required to provide another sample of breath on an evidential breath testing machine.
The result of an evidential breath test will determine if a suspect is charged or not.
Currently drivers whose alcohol levels are only marginally over the legal limit at the roadside could quite possibly eliminate enough alcohol in the time between providing a positive preliminary test at the roadside and providing an evidential breath test at a police station, especially if there are any delays in getting to a police station.
This can obviously lead to drink drivers escaping conviction and can be a waste of police time and resources.
The police have had the power to use evidential breath testing machines at the roadside since 2005 but have been unable to do so as no mobile evidential breath testing device has been available for them to use.
Most breath testing manufacturing companies have been unwilling to invest in mobile evidential breath testing devices for the UK or it has not been financially viable for them to do so.
In order to streamline the process and help eliminate wasted police time and resources the Department for Transport will be funding a competition designed to incentivise breath testing device manufacturers in the hope that a mobile evidential breath testing machine that meets the very high UK standard will be produced, approved and become available for police use.
It is expected that a mobile evidential roadside breath testing device will become available to police forces throughout the UK by summer 2020.