Director of Public Prosecutions V Johnson

  • 04 Pages
  • Published On: 18-11-2023


Q1. The legal issue for the High Court was to in order to determine whether a person charged with an offence contrary to s 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, of consuming so much alcohol that the proportion revealed in his breath exceeded the prescribed limit, was the court entitled to restrict the meaning of ‘consuming’ to the act of drinking and to no other mode of introduction or injection of alcohol?

Q2.Arguments supporting a guilty verdict

Prosecution will focus on the true construction of the Road Traffic Act 1988, s5(1). The term ‘consuming’ should not be interpreted in a restrictive sense considering the mischief it was aimed. It was capable of interpreting in a variety of meanings depending on its context. Thus, ‘consuming’ cannot be restricted to drinking alone. It can include introduction of alcohol into the body by injection or other means. Based on this reasoning, interpretation of the language used in this Act must expand the meaning of the term ‘consuming’ to include the mode of entry of the alcohol into the body.

Based on Dr Wells’e evidence, benzyl alcohol was alcohol within the meaning of the Road Traffic Act 1988, s5. Based on the true construction of the term, the defendant has consumed the alcohol through injection. Based on the fact that the level of alcohol in the defendant’s body is higher than the prescribed limit, the defendant has committed the contrary to the Road Traffic Act 1988, s5.

The provision of the legislation must be interpreted to govern the mischief the legislation aimed. An object of the road traffic legislation was to promote road safety. According, the accepted perception based on medical knowledge is that presence of alcohol in the human body impaired driving. Based on this reasoning, the word ‘consume’ cannot be given a narrow definition. It, thus, includes consumption by injection and the defendant is guilty under the Road Traffic Act 1988.


Arguments supporting a not guilty verdict

For the purposes of the Act of 1988, s5, the term ‘consuming’ must be given a legislative meaning considering the intention of the legislature. While interpreting the term ‘consuming’, consideration must therefore be given to the motives of Parliament. In general sense, the ‘consume’ in the context of alcohol may involve imbibing, injection, or possibly eating an alcohol-soaked confection. Thus, there may be a wider interpretation. However, such wider and general interpretation cannot be held relevant in the current case. It cannot override the motive of the legislature. Section 5 requires consumption of the alcohol. It does not, therefore, include injecting. Thus, in the circumstances of the particular case, the insertion of Kenalog did not amount to consumption within the meaning and spirit of the 1988 Act. The legislature did not intend to include injecting as a part of the interpretation of the word ‘consume’ in the 1988 Act. In such case, the defendant cannot be held guilty. Moreover, the defendant or his doctore, Dr Wells was aware of the presence of benzyl alcohol or of its possible effects at the time of injecting Kenalog. Further, the cause of the reading on the machine cannot be the wine the defendant consumer. The injection of Kenalog caused benzyl alcohol was capable of remaining in the body for as long as the pain relieving drug would operate. During this period, benzyl alcohol would release intermittently and unevenly direct to the air passages of the lungs. Because of the presence of benzyl alcohol, the reading of alcohol level in the defendant’s body on the machine crossed the prescribed limit. Thus, it cannot be ruled that the defendant consumed alcohol beyond the prescribed limit. In the light of the given circumstances, it must be noted that the primary meaning of consuming alcohol in context of the Road Traffic Act 1988, s5(1) is consumption of alcohol by mouth, whether it is in the form of liquid or food prepared with alcohol. The wide meaning of ‘consume’ being given in normal sense to include other methods of ingestion of alcohol into the body cannot be relevant and applied in the current case.

Task 2 What do you want to be able to do better?

My personal approach would be to give priority to logical thinking and self-motivation. In order to achieve an advance level in this skill sets, I may require myself to create a study plan, which will set timelines, tasks and activities, corresponding milestones, and test and trial method. This will help me deduce theories about my learning experience and graph, which would be studied to achieve my aim. Such planning would enable me address foreseeable effects of my learning approach, which will further help me devise appropriate strategy regarding my study techniques.

How you will know when you have mastered the skill (what does success in this area look like?)

The skills of logical thinking and self-motivation are imbibed in everyone. The only thing required is to explore our own thinking capabilities. I would realise my potential to a satisfactory level only when my study or research output would show an analytical approach and conclusion. Such output would show my capability to connect events, concepts, or theories with the question in hand.

What methods will you use to achieve this objective? (studying on this course counts! But can you think more broadly about developing further the quality of mind you have identified?), and

In finding out what is written in between the line, one fact was clear to me that if one finds the facts, lays down in sequence, and apply a mathematical approach in regard to comparing and connecting the events, the motives of any move could be gathered effectively. Such application of a mathematical approach led me to draw a critical evaluation of the acquisition transaction. It helped me to derive or draw conclusion by reading between the lines. It helped me apply existing theories in drawing a conclusion about whether the transaction was sensible to the parties and other stakeholders involved.

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How will you practise and apply what you have learned

The motivation for me would be the output that I create based on critical analysis and application of relevant principles. The way to practice my concerned skills and the method used to achieve my optimal skills set is get my basic right. My basic would be enhanced comprehension and ability to conduct critical evaluation of a question. The former would help me digest facts and reasoning in a transaction, be it social, economic, political or legal. The latter would enable me see the pros and cons and a way forward. Such forward thinking could only be achieved through application of critical evaluation that could connect series of events, with plans, policies or norms.

I, therefore, have the view that any good reading or research can result from, firstly, an effective fact findings and events in a sequential order, comprehension of the facts, and finding relevance between the facts and secondly, from critically evaluating the facts and claims that exposes the strategies and objectives behind them. Hopefully, the approach that I have laid down here would enable me effectively derive a conclusion and enhance my skills in applying existing principles to that effect.

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