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Spiked drinks – A Sobering Message for the Party Season

Written by: Alan Baker 29th November, 2014
Now is the time of year when Police begin their annual clampdown on drunk driving. But, we all see the warnings about the importance of watching how much you drink. Especially during the festive period, and especially when people are driving to and from events and parties. People are also urged to be extra careful about the so-called “morning-after” effect. This is when motorists mistakenly believe that after a night’s sleep, they must be under the statutory breath and blood alcohol limits.
If a motorist is found guilty of drunk driving they cannot avoid a criminal conviction. Yet, a person can avoid a driving ban if they can prove to the Court that they were over the limit, due to spiking or lacing. This is when a person had their drink unknowingly laced or spiked with extra alcohol. The types of drinks are typically non-alcoholic or alcoholic drinks. To which more alcohol has been added without the knowledge of the individual. Our forensic experts have undertaken hundreds of these types of calculations. All on behalf of criminal defence solicitors.
Often, a drink-driving expert is asked a specific question. Whether or not an individual would have known whether their rink had been spiked or laced with additional alcohol”.
Work was undertaken 15 years ago at City Hospital in Birmingham, and published in the British Medical Journal. This work concluded 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.

Our research

Forensic scientists at Bericon have carried out extra research. This was centred around individuals’ perceptions of laced or spiked wine. Our results showed:
  • 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 extra measures of vodka
  • 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. She commented “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.”
Explore the subject of drunk driving further. Understand how Bericon Forensics provides services to legal professionals.

About Bericon Forensics

Bericon Forensics has provided first-class forensic science consultancy to legal professionals. As well as other organisations for over 40 years. Set up by Alan Baker, we are one of the oldest independent forensic consultancy organisations in the UK.
We provide a wide range of forensic services and are proud to call ourselves a “one-stop shop” for your forensic needs. Assisting in cases involving alcohol calculations, drug driving and blood pattern analysis. Plus, DNA, drug analysis and valuation. As well as fingerprints, electronic tags, handwriting, glass, fibres and footwear marks.
Bericon Forensics operates from 2 locations in the UK. Stoke-on-Trent and London. Meaning we can provide our services to businesses and individuals up and down the country.

Contact Us

Want to know more about how we can provide forensic services for you? Please get in touch with our team of experts. Call us on 01782 394929 or email us at

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