Alcohol & Shooting

New Avon Arms

Gunner

Well-Known Member
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 :eek: 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."
 

Monkey Spanker

Well-Known Member
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?? :confused: 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!!" :p
 

Gazza

Well-Known Member
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.
 

Monkey Spanker

Well-Known Member
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! :eek: 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.
 

EMcC

Well-Known Member
Gunner,
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!!!!
 

David BASC

Well-Known Member
Official Member
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....?

D
 

JayJay

Well-Known Member
Drink

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 ? :confused:
 

Gez

Well-Known Member
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?

Gez
 

charadam

Well-Known Member
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.

Charles
 

Gazza

Well-Known Member
David BASC said:
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....?

D

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.
 

JAYB

Administrator
Site Staff
I am with Gazza, in more ways than one I am also a retired Police Officer, the offence is being drunk in charge of a firearm, not being over the legal limit to drive in charge of a firearm. If you are merely a passenger and supervising a learner driver there is no requirement in law for you to take a breath test, gun or no gun.

There is also an offence of being drunk in charge of a child under the age of seven in a public place. I expect the Constabulary concerned will now start giving breath tests to family groups over the Christmas period :eek:

If you drink don't drive.
If you drink don't shoot.

John
 

Pete E

Well-Known Member
Gazza said:
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.

Unless there were other witnesses, I would imagine that charge would be very difficult to defend against, as it would be the Policeman's word/judgment against the persons being charged..If the Policeman concerned was a bit of a bad bugger or an Anti, its easy to see how this particular law could be abused...

If a person was arrested on such a charge, could they demand a breathalyser or blood alcohol test to help prove their innocence?

Regards

Peter
 

JAYB

Administrator
Site Staff
Pete,

In law there are such things as expert witnesses, forensic scientists, handwriting experts and the like. With regard to drunkeness a Police Officer is regarded as an expert witness, so if he says you are drunk you are drunk. Mind you when he gets you to the nick the custody sergeant or whoever is manning the desk will have to be convinced of the validity of the charge before it is accepted.

As for demanding blood tests and breath tests well, a breath test is not used to measure any degree of drunkeness it is used to indicate alcohol in your breath. If it proves positive at the roadside you are then taken to the Police Station where you are put onto a more high tech sensitive machine which accurately measures the amount of alcohol in you to determine if you are over the legal limit to drive.

Now it could be argued that if you were not over the limit to drive then in way could you be considered to be drunk, however actually getting such a test done at a Police Station in order to prove your innocence, well don't hold your breath. You could though I should imagine have a Doctor attend to take a blood sample for analysis, but both the Doctors attendance and subsequent analysis would have to be at your own expense.

John
 

Roe Hunter

Well-Known Member
A slightly different tack on alcohol and shooting.

Many years ago, when I only shot rabbits with an air rifle, on the odd occasion I would have maybe a single glass of wine or one can of beer (not the strong stuff either) with dinner in the early evening before going out rabbiting with the air rifle say 2 to 3 hours later.

Invariably, if I had had the glass of wine or the can of beer, I came home with less rabbits!

I have to admit that it was my wife who noticed the trend, but when I thought about it, and looked at my records she was absolutely right.

I was genuinely surpised that a single glass or can would affect my fieldcraft and shooting as much as it did, but the evidence was plain to see.

So I too am a firm believer that if I'm going shooting, strictly no alcohol (until the celebratory drink after the carcass has been brough home and is hung up in the garage...).

RH
 

David BASC

Well-Known Member
Official Member
As far as i am aware there is no offence in Endland & Wales of being DIC a firearm- hence this story is a bit of a hoax, I think there is such a law though in Scotland, not sure about NI - if in doubt with those two then I suggest you call BASC Scotland or BASC NI for the answer.

Hope that helps

D
 

Gazza

Well-Known Member
David, In Scotland the offence of being drunk in possession of a firearm is covered under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 section 50.
In Northern Ireland the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 article 65 (states loaded firearm) and in England and Wales it appeaars to date back to the Licensing Act 1892 but again it states loaded firearm. I am quite sure there will be more up to date legislation under some of the public order statutes.

In proving drunk under section 4 of the Road Traffic Act (drunk driving) staggering/slurred speech/smelling of alcohol was sufficient to arrest but a doctor was always called to give an expert opinion. This opinion may have been backed up by blood test/urine sample results. BUT if a person was arrested for say drunk and incapable only the evidence of the arresting officer and charge bar officer was enough.

Still maintain if you take out your car or firearm leave the alcohol.
 

snowstorm

Well-Known Member
If you are at home, and drunk, and your guns are in the cabinet and you have the keys and access, does that make you drunk in charge of a firearm?
 

JAYB

Administrator
Site Staff
The words "public place" feature in these offences but do not include your house.

John
 
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