Great answerWe always have the discretion to prosecute. We have to make a decision whether there is sufficient evidence that ‘could’ convict someone of an offence and secondly, that it is in the ‘public interest’ to do so.
So Offa is in his motor vehicle, he is 0.125% and the keys are in the ignition with the engine running. So there is clearly prima facie evidence of the offence.
Police arriving there have to decide basically whether it is in the public interest to prosecute him. There are competing interests at play. Is it in the public interest to prosecute and thereby deter drink driving? Of course. Few would argue that. What is Offa’s history like? We have heard about a few things publicly, but police will be checking his traffic and criminal history at the point of interception. Perhaps his traffic history isn’t exactly stellar or does he have a clean sheet, prior to this incident?
Has the offender made reasonable attempts to avoid committing the offence or has a timely withdrawal from the offence been conducted by the offender? Is the offence of such a minor or technical nature that perhaps an alternative method of dealing with it, such as a caution or warning, is more appropriate?
All of these things are weighed up, every time we type a bench charge sheet or write out a notice to appear, sometimes we do neither and caution someone, or perhaps ‘alcohol divert’ them to a safe place, meaning we consider it more of a health issue than a legal issue and we’re concerned that this person needs help rather than prosecution. It’s something we do all the time, but it rarely makes headlines.
So yes there are other options than necessarily charging a person, every situation is different and ‘quotas’ rarely if ever enter the equation contrary to some opinions. As a rough guide though, the higher the BAC reading and / or the more history a person has, the less likely a person is to be shown discretion in my experience.