Director of Public Prosecutions v McKeown and Jones: HL 20 Feb 1997

A driver was arrested for driving with excess alcohol. At the police station, he was to be tested with the Lion Intoximeter. The officer tested the machine and it calibrated correctly. This was at about a quarter after midnight; the sergeant’s watch said 00.13 am, but the time display on the machine read 23:00. Part of the discrepancy was explained by the fact that, as the print-out made plain, the machine was set to GMT. But there was no explanation for the balance of the difference.
Held: The failure of an internal computer clock was not a sufficient indication of a computer malfunction to make a reading from a breath analyzing machine inadmissible in evidence. The rule in section 16 is a specialist exception to the rule against admission of hearsay.


Lord Goff of Chieveley, Lord Mustill, Lord Steyn, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Clyde


Times 21-Feb-1997, [1997] UKHL 4, [1997] 1 All ER 737, [1997] 1 WLR 295, [1997] 2 Cr App Rep 155, [1997] Crim LR 522


House of Lords, Bailii


Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 69, Road Traffic Act 1988 7(1), Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 16, Magistrats’ Court Act 1980 97(1)


England and Wales


CitedCastle v Cross 1984
First-hand evidence, in this case, a print-out from a device, of what is displayed or recorded on a mechanical measuring device is real evidence admissible at common law.
‘In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the courts will presume that . .
CitedRegina v Skegness Magistrates’ Court ex parte Cardy 1985
Representations that the Intoximeter or other device used for measuring breath alcohol, should not have been approved or that the Secretary of State should have withdrawn approval in respect of the device should be addressed to the Secretary of . .

Cited by:

CitedHaw, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Another CA 8-May-2006
The applicant had demonstrated continuously against the war in Iraq from the pavement outside the House of Commons. The respondent sought an order for his removal under the law preventing demonstrations near Parliament without consent which was . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Evidence, Road Traffic

Updated: 31 May 2022; Ref: scu.158880