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Spiked drinks – A Sobering Message for the Party Season

Written by: Alan Baker 29th November, 2014

As the annual police clampdown on drink driving commences with all of the usual warnings about watching how much you drink and being extra careful about the so-called “morning-after” effect which is when motorists mistakenly believe that after a night’s sleep that they must be under the statutory breath and blood alcohol limits.

If a motorist is found guilty of drink driving whilst they cannot avoid a criminal conviction they can avoid driving ban if they are able to prove to Court that the only reason that they were over the limit is that their drink was unknowingly laced or spiked with additional alcohol. The types of drink are typically non-alcoholic or alcoholic drinks to which additional alcohol has been added without the knowledge of the individual and forensic experts at Bericon undertake hundreds of these types of calculations each year on behalf of criminal defence solicitors.

In many cases of drink driving the expert is often asked whether an individual would have known if their drink had been spiked or laced with additional alcohol and work undertaken 15 years ago at City Hospital in Birmingham and published in the British Medical Journal conclude that volunteers were poor at discriminating between laced and non-laced drinks even when large amounts of alcohol were added to orange juice and lager.

Further to that original work, forensic scientists at Bericon have undertaken research of individuals’ perception of laced or spiked wine and the results showed that:

Perhaps not surprisingly 90% of those tested could detect when 4 single measures of vodka had been added to a large glass of wine

One individual thought that none of the samples contained additional alcohol despite the fact that one he sampled had four additional measures of vodka

Strangely, 25% of those tested thought that additional alcohol had been added to the wine when it hadn’t

When between 1 and 3 single measures of vodka were added, the results were less than consistent and only 20% could detect when 3 measures were added but 70% could detect when 2 measures were added to the wine.

The study was conducted and evaluated by forensic scientist Victoria Dempsey who commented that “It seems that individuals’ perception of laced alcohol varies enormously and some show little or no ability in determining if a drink has additional alcohol in it. The message for party season is therefore to be careful when drinking alcohol that’s been prepared by someone else.”

For further information:

Alan Baker on 01782 394929 or

 Bericon Forensics has provided first class forensic science consultancy to the legal profession and other organisations for 30 years and is one of the oldest independent forensic consultancy organisations in the UK.

It aims to present a “one stop shop” for forensic science and can assist in cases involving alcohol calculations, drug driving, blood pattern analysis, DNA, drug analysis and valuation, fingerprints, electronic tags (PID),handwriting, glass, fibres and footwear marks.

The business operates from premises in Stoke on Trent and London making it ideally placed geographically to accept instructions from across the UK.

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