'Religious' Rastafarian has drive ban quashed

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The Independent Online

A Rastafarian who said it was against his religion to give a blood sample after he was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving had his conviction quashed at the High Court yesterday.

Michael Joseph, 38, of Ealing, west London was banned from driving for three years and fined £480 last year after he refused, on "religious grounds", to take a blood test to establish his alcohol level. He would only agree to a urine specimen being taken.

Isleworth Crown Court dismissed Mr Joseph's claims that he was unable to take a blood test because of his religion - ruling that Rastafarianism was a movement, not a religion. But Lord Woolf and Mr Justice Mackay, sitting at the High Court, overturned the conviction saying police were wrong to refuse to allow Mr Joseph to provide a urine sample - an option that is legally available.

The officer told Mr Joseph, that he would be charged if he failed to provide a blood sample. Lord Woolf said: "In those circumstances, the officer, not having any reason not to choose urine, should have chosen that option rather than blood."

Lord Woolf, refused to be drawn on the status of Rastafarianism saying that a discussion would require "more information".