European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

Hungary: Motorist suffered inhuman and degrading treatment after police breathalyser refusal

Human rights judges have ruled that a decision by Hungarian police to force a suspected drink-driving motorist to have a urine test via a catheter was inhuman and degrading.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of R.S. v. Hungary (application no. 65290/14) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

As just satisfaction (Article 41), the court held that Hungary was to pay the applicant 9,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 4,080 in respect of costs and expenses.

The applicant, R.S., is a Hungarian national who was born in 1980 and lives in Püspökladány (Hungary).

In March 2010 the applicant was involved in a fight outside a nightclub. When stopped later that night by the police in his car, he refused to take a breathalyser test and was arrested for questioning.

He was taken to the hospital for blood and urine tests in order to determine whether he was under the influence of drink or drugs.

At the hospital the applicant told the doctor on duty that he could not urinate. Police officers therefore asked the doctor to carry out a catheterisation. The procedure was carried out, as was a blood test.

The European court found that the authorities had subjected the applicant to a serious interference with his physical and mental integrity, against his will, without it even having been necessary seeing as a blood test had also been carried out to find out whether he had been intoxicated.

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