Home Accessibility Courses Twitter The Mouth Facebook Resources Site Map About Us Contact
Retiring, March 2020 - sorry, you have missed our final public course.
The Coronavirus situation has lead us to suspend public training - which was on the cards anyway, with no plans to resume

Please ask about private 'maintenance' training for Python, Tcl, Perl, PHP, Lua, etc
Happily continuing private consultancy / programming work
Over zealous police activity?

Link to update

Is the very act of driving a car out of a pub car park sufficient grounds for a policeman to stop you on the basic that he suspects you might be drinking and driving? Apparently, the policemen of Wiltshire think it is.

The other day, I left the West End (Pub) after a lunch with customers. Not one of us had any alcohol at all - after all, the course was continuing through. That particular pub offers a good meal at its heavily advertised and used restaurant, and serves soft drinks as much as alcohol.

As we left the car park, we noticed a police car doing a wide "U" turn in a T junction opposite and wondered what he was up to, and he followed us back to our place, actually turning into our drive and onto our private property behind us, blocking my car in.

I walked back to the police car.

Graham "Can I help you?"

Police Officer: "We having a drink drive campaign and I couldn't help noticing you leaving the West End. Do you mind telling me how much alcohol you've had to drink? "

Graham "None at all. None of us has. We've an afternoon's work to do"

Police Office "May I smell your breath ..."

I was unsure, and suggested that it might not be especially pleasant, but the officer reassured me that he wasn't worried about that, and that he could tell straight off if I was indeed alcohol free from the test. Test due-ly done, "Thank you" he says, and he and his colleague who hasn't left their car or said anything leave.

I'm very much against driving under the influence of alcohol but I wonder:
a) Does a police officer have the right to follow and stop me just because he saw me driving out of a restaurant / pub car park?
b) Does he have the right to follow me onto private property and block me in this circumstance?
c) What's the basis for the "breath test" he undertook - should he have asked for that?

I felt unjustifiably accused in front of my business contacts. There was no suggestion what so ever that I had been behaving in any way to raise his suspicions - indeed, he specifically gave "leaving the West End car park" as his reason for following me, blocking me on my own driveway, and questioning and breath testing me in front of my clients.

[[UPDATE added 28th June 2006]]The following provided by the local police inspector ... many, many thanks to him for the time and trouble he has gone to research and provide answers:

The police are empowered to stop any motor vehicle on the road. We are not required to suspect that an offence has been committed. One assumes that this is to allow the police to be able to pro-actively deal with motorists and not have to suspect that an offence has taken place before they have the power to stop.

Random breath testing is not legal in this country. The police either have to suspect alcohol before requiring a breath test or a moving road traffic offence has to be committed. To my knowledge, neither applied in your case and that is why the officer asked you to breathe on him. Had he suspected alcohol then, he may have asked for you to provide a specimen of breath, but obviously he had no suspicion

[[Comment by Graham]] In other words he had no right to ask for a breath test as he had no suspicion, but never the less he in effect DID do a test by asking to smell my breath. Hmm.

[[I then wrote]]There is no reason why they cannot follow a motorist onto his private property, and there ask for an informal (as happened in my case) or formal test. The motorist asked for such a test does have a right to ask the officers to leave and they would do so. However, the officers are NOT obliged to tell the motorist of this right, and as I understand it for a motorist to invoke the right could imply a knowledge of the law and a lack of co-operation which would in itself raise further suspicion and probably lead them to make further enquiries.

[[Inspector's reply continues]] This is a more grey area. To my knowledge, and I have also taken advice in this respect, there is nothing to preclude officers from following the course of action that they did, however if the property owner were to request them to leave because they were on private property then they would become trespassers and potentially not be acting in the execution of their duty. However some Sections of the Road Traffic Act do allow officers the power to enter premises in they suspect impairment through drink or drugs. No they are not obliged to tell the public.


It is clear from our correspondence and also the conversation that I had with your wife, that this incident has caused you some embarrassment in front of one of your clients and for that I apologise. In summary though, I believe that the officers acted reasonably from the description of the events, their motives were true and they acted proportionately in their dealings with you. Road Safety is one of the key objectives of the police service and given that excess alcohol is one of the major causes of all fatal and serious injury road traffic collisions, we do endeavour to deal with it pro-actively and robustly.

If I was embarrassed, I wouldn't be blogging this, would I ;-)

I do completely appreciate the need to act robustly in response to drink-driving. I also believe that the motives of the officers were true. However, I differ from the Inspector in my view of what is reasonable. To follow someone who has not raised any suspisions onto private land seems, to me, like one step beyond reasonable, To then block that person in seems a second step beyond reasonable. To sidestep the law about random breath tests by asking for an informal test, and not giving me full details of my rights as regards this, perhaps a third step. I could go on with other aspects, but I think three's enough.

I suspect that the police officers involved spend much of there time dealing with people who have broken the law or who are in danger of doing so. The Inspector wrote I have personally stopped vehicles as they have pulled away from the forecourts of licensed premises and immediately explained that the reason I am doing so is to ensure that they are not driving with excess alcohol in their bodies. Unsurprisingly I would hope, I have detected many offences by doing so.. Ah, yes indeed Inspector. But you're not saying that you've followed them all the way back to their places, nor than you've blockaded them, nor that you've failed to tell them their rights in questioning.

P.S. There's also a disagreement whether doing a U turn in a turning opposite the restaurant, pausing on that turn until a vehicle comes out of the pub, the following it could be regarded as "waiting ouside the restaurant". In any case, the indication is that such action IS within the policy of the police which is what I was asking.

Enough of this subject ... I offered to follow up, have done so, and will now let matters rest.
(written 2006-06-09, updated 2006-06-27)

Commentatorsays ...
Leah:I would be interesting in knowing what the law is on that myself, on all those questions.
(comment added 2006-06-09 17:17:48)
graham:I've sent a link to this blog post to the local police and invited them to comment / answer. If they follow up here, great. If they get in touch some other way, I'll post an update.
(comment added 2006-06-10 02:52:42)
Graham:An update ... the local police inspector has dropped me a note asking for an exact date and time. Good to see a response at least, though I think perhaps my point has been missed; I would much rather have general (policy) answers that specific ones, and I'm not interested in the individual officer if the actions he took are sanctioned from above.
(comment added 2006-06-13 06:05:02)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z100 - Daily life
  [4222] Five lessons learned or re-learned on my travels - (2013-12-15)
  [3743] Sunday - no longer a day of rest - (2012-05-28)
  [3553] Changes to morning routines - (2011-12-16)
  [3463] Busy weekend of contrasts. - (2011-10-03)
  [3319] Moving on - a task for the hotel staff! - (2011-06-08)
  [3316] Twitter Phishing Trips ... and a great new alert service - (2011-06-04)
  [3125] The family is defunct. Long live the family. - (2011-01-09)
  [2868] A move towards the family - (2010-07-12)
  [2580] C course inspires new teaching examples - (2010-01-16)
  [2450] Family Gathering at 404, The Spa - (2009-10-11)
  [2401] Back Tomorrow - (2009-09-10)
  [2371] Quiet summer days? I think not! - (2009-08-22)
  [2264] Learning about others private lives - (2009-06-30)
  [2217] Enjoying the summer weather - (2009-06-04)
  [2164] Updating my public profile - Graham Ellis - (2009-05-09)
  [2159] A long day to guess where - (2009-05-06)
  [2141] Town Crier competiton - (2009-04-25)
  [2121] Out in the Vale of Pewsey - (2009-04-07)
  [2118] Spring Sprung - (2009-04-05)
  [2106] Learning to Twitter / what is Twitter? - (2009-03-28)
  [2105] Hire Car, from Atlanta Airport - (2009-03-27)
  [2090] Melksham to Georgia - (2009-03-19)
  [2068] Playing Catchup - (2009-03-06)
  [2064] East of Melksham Countryside - (2009-03-02)
  [2034] Through Snow and Flood to Linux and Tomcat - (2009-02-10)
  [2030] The final step to being British - (2009-02-07)
  [2027] Who sticks by you in the snow? - (2009-02-05)
  [2024] Carry on Training - in spite of the weather - (2009-02-03)
  [2008] The Month Ahead - What is happening in Melksham - (2009-01-25)
  [2000] 2000th article - Remember the background and basics - (2009-01-18)
  [1979] Looking forward, in Melksham, in 2009 - (2009-01-05)
  [1953] End of Training, 2008 - (2008-12-20)
  [1810] Middle aged subsidise young and old - (2008-09-26)
  [1643] A lack of technical content - (2008-05-16)
  [1429] Remembrance day - inside a church and inside the day - (2007-11-11)
  [1303] Heading Upstate New York - (2007-08-14)
  [1272] Behind closed doors? - (2007-07-22)
  [1189] Meet, greet and welcome - (2007-05-16)
  [1178] Ducking stool for Melksham? - (2007-05-06)
  [1151] Gordon Dodge, R.I.P. - (2007-04-16)
  [1138] The Holiday - unlikely romantic comedy? - (2007-04-08)
  [1100] Wondering where I have been - (2007-03-06)
  [1061] Take vehicles off the road - put all the passengers into one - (2007-02-01)
  [1057] Selling by phone and Skype - our policy - (2007-01-30)
  [1056] Another frantic posting! - (2007-01-30)
  [992] Enthusiastic, but .... - (2006-12-16)
  [978] Wellhouse Manor, Hotel, Melksham - (2006-12-10)
  [921] French Exchange - (2006-11-11)
  [911] Letter Home - (2006-11-01)
  [908] And so to Inverness - (2006-10-29)
  [897] Too much for the National Trust - (2006-10-18)
  [882] Rocks, hard places, trains and funerals. - (2006-09-30)
  [843] To join an organisation? - (2006-08-23)
  [817] Working on Weekend in Wiltshire and others - (2006-07-29)
  [777] On Crosby sands - (2006-06-25)
  [724] Helping mental health through diet, exercise and other lifestyle matters - (2006-05-18)
  [706] May day away - (2006-05-01)
  [698] Catch up weekend - (2006-04-24)
  [692] Healthier eating - (2006-04-20)
  [655] Can some food be TOO different? - (2006-03-23)
  [654] Making use of disabled facilities - (2006-03-22)
  [645] Lost Camel - (2006-03-14)
  [635] Odd one out. - (2006-03-06)
  [623] Behind every face is a person and a story - (2006-02-25)
  [613] Greetings from Dublin - (2006-02-20)
  [612] Coming or going? - (2006-02-18)
  [605] Design your day with a walk - (2006-02-13)
  [584] Loosing breath with Gerald - (2006-01-31)
  [580] What to do with milk - (2006-01-28)
  [516] Open source questions? Anyone can ask. - (2005-12-03)
  [474] Vintage Bus Day - (2005-10-23)
  [473] Looking different in town - (2005-10-22)
  [455] A Stengthening day - (2005-10-04)
  [446] Up early - (2005-09-16)
  [363] Greetings from Edinburgh - (2005-06-29)
  [330] An O level comes in handy - (2005-05-30)
  [307] Farming yesterday - (2005-05-10)
  [283] Natural or man-made? - (2005-04-18)
  [271] Different course every day - (2005-04-07)
  [238] Difficulties with a trolley - (2005-03-07)
  [232] Diverse activities - (2005-03-01)
  [228] Beard Justification - (2005-02-26)
  [206] Fox and Python - (2005-02-08)
  [149] Fish stocks - (2004-12-12)
  [110] Friday, busy week! - (2004-11-05)
  [26] Matching Cat - (2004-08-24)
  [20] Not two the same - (2004-08-20)
  [19] interesting products and subjects - (2004-08-19)

Back to
Want to be a technical trainer in the UK?
Previous and next
Horse's mouth home
Forward to
Python 3000 - the next generation
Some other Articles
Seeing the bricks for the trees
Using different URLs to navigate around a single script
tar, jar, war, ear, sar files
Python 3000 - the next generation
Over zealous police activity?
Want to be a technical trainer in the UK?
Almost everyone loses
Cottage industry or production line data handling methods
Getting rid of variables after you have finished with them
The Fag Packet Design Methodology
4759 posts, page by page
Link to page ... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96 at 50 posts per page

This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

Link to Ezine home page (for reading).
Link to Blogging home page (to add comments).

You can Add a comment or ranking to this page

© WELL HOUSE CONSULTANTS LTD., 2020: 48 Spa Road • Melksham, Wiltshire • United Kingdom • SN12 7NY
PH: 01225 708225 • EMAIL: info@wellho.net • WEB: http://www.wellho.net • SKYPE: wellho

PAGE: http://www.wellho.net/mouth/752_Over ... vity-.html • PAGE BUILT: Sat May 27 16:49:10 2017 • BUILD SYSTEM: WomanWithCat