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Thread: Alcohol & Shooting

  1. #1

    Alcohol & Shooting

    I received this e-mail from a shooting friend today and thought I would post it for general interest. I know most of us will not contemplate having a drink whilst out shooting but just in case the following is taken straight from the e-mail........

    "You may have heard about this already but I thought I would email you all anyway as you might like to pass this warning on to shooting clients. A friend of mine was shooting in Devon last week and he and one of his fellow guns were stopped on the A361 at about 5pm and BOTH were breathalysed on the grounds that even the passenger might be committing an offence if he was shown to be over the limit in charge of shot guns. Both were clear and proceeded on their way. My friend contacted the BASC to find out what the situation would be had his passenger been over the limit. He was told by the BASC that, even if you are over the limit, if your shot guns are “secure” in a car being driven by someone else and you are not being “a danger to the public” you are not committing an offence and the police should not breathalyse a passenger without considerable cause.

    My friend is in the investigations business and spoke to a police contact who looked into the incident. Apparently the police are targeting 4 x 4 vehicles throughout the country but especially in shooting areas and particularly if they are muddy and it is after lunch. You should warn your clients and friends to be particularly careful as it is not only their driving licences that are at risk. Their shot guns can be confiscated and their permits can also be revoked. Traffic police can (and are) asking if shot guns or rifles are being carried and if so, people are being asked to show their permits. If they do not have them, the shot guns can (often are) be confiscated then and there. We are under enough pressure without further ammunition (forgive the pun) being handed to the antis. Can you see the headline? DRUNK WITH A GUN. Please make sure that everyone you know is aware of what is happening and urge them to be abstemious when out shooting. Last year I had to tell the guest of a gun on my shoot that I would not let him shoot after lunch as he had climbed too far down the neck of a claret bottle - and awkward and potentially embarrassing incident but one which had to be dealt with.

    I have heard of a similar story last year. You should also when travelling remove the fore end of your shotgun and or bolt of rifle and put this in a separate part of your car. That way it is obvious that it is not capable of firing. I have heard of another incident when a green policeman would not believe that a gun was not loaded in the boot of a car and called in an armed back up. As to carrying your original certificates this is a difficult one. I dislike this as they can get lost or stolen and then a miscreant will have your address and a full list of what you have in your house. Burglars paradise! Also when folded the serial numbers have a habit of getting rubbed out! I photo copy and reduce my certs to the size of a credit card and keep in my shooting jacket. If a policeman is not satisfied he can always call up on his radio for confirmation as all the data and serial numbers are available to him. I suggested this to the Firearms Consultative Committee that certificates should be in two parts – a bit like driving licenses. A credit card size with identification detail, no address and no weapons, and a full document as we have now. The latter used to acquire ammunition etc. Much safer."

  2. #2
    I had a similar concern recently as I was called out for a road traffic incident involving a deer. I had consumed a can of Strong bow cider which meant I could legally drive - but what about use a firearm on a public highway?? I've asked a few people but it seems to be a bit of a grey area. Maybe BASC would know the answer? As it was, I politely declined the offer of an injured deer and went back to my "Trampagne!!"

  3. #3
    Saw this email on another site. I am a retired Police Officer.
    Whilst I firmly believe that there is no place for firearms and alcohol to mix there is a fact of law that there is no legal power whereby a Police Officer can require a passenger of a vehicle to provide a specimen of breath for a breath test unless he/she is supervising an L Driver.

    In Scotland there is an offence of being drunk in possession of a firearm but this is obviously open to what is drunk. A few pints will put you over the drink/driving limit but you may not be considered drunk.

    It is fairly common for police to target drink/driving in connection with sport. eg the golfer leaving the clubhouse having consumed a few drinks after his round. Obviously the shooting lunch time drink is being acted upon.

    IMO alcohol and driving or shooting is just not on.

  4. #4
    Sorry to slightly hijack this thread but another recent development here in quiet rural Suffolk is guns being nicked out of vehicles in pub carparks after game shoots. I went to an after shoot dinner on Saturday and we had to take the guns into the pub with us! It is not a surprise really I suppose as we are easily identifiable targets by our vehicles and what we wear. The guns might be out of sight but it's obvious they are there to any would-be criminals and easy pickings.

  5. #5
    I got the same e mail earlier today and e mailed it to all the RSA Shoot members for info, not that it would affect any of them personally, being good Gunners!!!!

  6. #6
    The BASC firearms team have contacted the constabulary in question who confirm that this has been blown out of all proportion- no such warning of being in charge of a shotgun while over the limit was ever made.

    Sounds like a bit of an urban myth to be honest.

    We have had 5 different versions of this tale sent to us so far today at BASC HQ!

    On a side issue, I thought you could be done for being drunk in charge of a vehicle - not just drink driving. e.g., I am drunk, but not driving, my wife is driving, and we break down on the motorway. My wife leaves the car, keys in ignition (I stay in the passenger seat), to go to the emergency phone 200m away. Cops turn up before she gets back - do me for being drunk in charge....?


  7. #7


    Quite right David
    if i park up for the night in the wagon, have a few beer ,in the bunk fast asleep, i am still drunk in charge but as far as drunk in charge of a firearm
    i do not know ?

  8. #8
    This is an interesting subject, about whether or not you are 'in charge of a gun' when riding home (or maybe when carrying it back into the house?), and the risks of having had a drink with lunch. Along with what classifies one as being drunk in charge of a gun (ie how much alcohol, any trace at all? less than the drink drive limit? more than the drink drive limit?).

    Personally I treat driving and shooting the same - in my book, the limit is no drinks for either (I'd rather be safe than sorry!), but it would be interesting to know where the law stands.

    David, in the light of this email (or possible hoax) and BASCs investigations, have BASC got any advice on the above?


  9. #9
    So, an upstanding subject of Her Majesty decides that he is possibly unfit to drive.

    He complies with the law and common sense, dismantles his gun and secures it out of public view in its case in the boot as required by law.

    Asks a sober mate or employee to drive.

    Then the police stop the vehicle for whatever reason.

    Just curious - what chargeable offence would have been committed by the passenger in the urban myth if he had happened to be over the breathalyser limit?

    What charge would have been brought?

    What precisely, is the danger to the Queen's peace from which we are being protected?

    I am struggling to come up with an analogy for this where there is no gun or shooting involvement.

    Again - just curious as to what the forum thinks of this.


  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by David BASC
    On a side issue, I thought you could be done for being drunk in charge of a vehicle - not just drink driving. e.g., I am drunk, but not driving, my wife is driving, and we break down on the motorway. My wife leaves the car, keys in ignition (I stay in the passenger seat), to go to the emergency phone 200m away. Cops turn up before she gets back - do me for being drunk in charge....?

    Being drunk in charge of a vehicle the police have to prove that at some point whilst still drunk you are going to drive. In the case you quote David there is absolutely no intention of you driving the evidence being your sober wife's presence and the whole situation as described.

    There are numerous stated cases of somebody over the limit sleeping in their car. If in the drivers seat, keys in ignition there certainly is evidence that the person was intending to drive but if the person is sleeping in the back seats, no keys in ignition the evidence would show that he had no intention of driving.

    As for having a drink and being in possession of a firearm I would think that each situation would be judged by the circumstances. You as a passenger in a car, gun secured in boot I would say no offence. You staggering from your mates car with gun not in case - your done.

    But again just to make it clear. There is no such offence as being in charge of a firearm whilst over an alcohol limit. You cannot be legally required to provide a breath specimen whilst in charge of a firearm. The offence is being drunk in possession of a firearm. Drunkiness has always been judged by staggering/slurred speech/glazed eyes/ strong smell of alcohol.

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