Blackfords LLP

Drink driving

Drink Driving

Drink driving is more correctly known as driving with excess alcohol. This is a serious offence which will, if convicted, result in the loss of your driving licence and the possibility of receiving a prison sentence.

Any conviction for drink driving will result in the imposition of a minimum mandatory disqualification from driving for 12 months. Other penalties such as a community order and the imposition of an unlimited fine can be applied.

Drunk in charge

This is a related charge and might be used where a suspect has been detained in or near a vehicle and is over the prescribed limit but there is no evidence that they were driving the vehicle. The court is not obliged to impose a disqualification for this charge, although it usually does. Where a disqualification is not imposed, the licence must be endorsed with 10 points. A fine of up to £10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 3 months can also be imposed.

Failing to provide a specimen

If you were unable or unwilling to provide a specimen to a police officer who had reasonable suspicion to suspect you were driving or in charge of a vehicle whilst exceeding the prescribed limit for alcohol, you will be charged with the offence of failing to provide a specimen. A defence may exist if you had a reasonable excuse / medical reasons for not doing so. You maybe sentence to an unlimited fine or up to 6 months in prison. Your licence will be endorsed and this offence carries a minimum mandatory disqualification of 12 months.

What are the drink driving limits?

Alcohol levels depend on many factors. The alcohol content of your drink is only one factor. Your weight and size also come into play, along with the timings of your drinks and how much you’ve eaten.

If equipment is not available or there is some reason preventing a breath sample, the Police may take a sample of urine or blood and send it for analysis.

What are the legal prescribed limits?

  • Breath – a maximum alcohol reading not exceeding 35 micrograms in 100 ml of breath
  • Urine – a maximum alcohol reading not exceeding 107 milligrams in 100 ml of breath
  • Blood – a maximum alcohol reading not exceeding 80 milligrams in 100 ml of breath

The penalty depends on the level of alcohol in your blood at the time of the offence and whether there were any other features to your case like an accident. Fines are based on the level of your weekly income. You will also have to pay prosecution costs and a victim surcharge. In more serious cases the court will consider extending the minimum ban, adding a community order and in some cases imposing a prison sentence.

For second offences within 10 years there is a strict minimum 3 year ban, in addition to possible community orders or a prison sentence.

Rehabilitation Courses

The Court will usually offer a rehabilitation course, which has the effect of reducing the driving disqualification by 25%. However, this is usually only offered on the first offence. The Court has a discretion and does not have to offer the course. This usually happens if there are previous convictions. We can argue on your behalf to persuade the court to offer the course if necessary.

Special reasons for not imposing a disqualification

The law requires that a court impose a disqualification in most cases of drink driving. In very limited circumstances it may find that there are special reasons for not doing so. The finding of special reasons is a complex legal issue; to succeed it must be something which does not amount to a defence to the primary allegation and can only relate directly to the reason that the offence was committed, for example:

  • Driving whilst under duress
  • Laced or spiked drinks
  • Driving only a short distance

What can we do for you?

If you are not guilty of drink driving, you will need a lawyer to advance your case. If you are guilty of drink driving, using one of our lawyers to advance expert mitigation will usually have a positive effect on minimising the chances of more severe penalties than a fine and assist in keeping the mandatory disqualification to a lesser period.

We can advise and assist you upon all such aspects.

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