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Drink Driving Penalties

This article concentrates on drink driving penalties as opposed to defences.

If you are found guilty of drink driving then you will be banned from driving for at least a year, be subject to an unlimited fine and receive a criminal record.  You could, if the reading was high, be subject to a community sentence (for example, a curfew or unpaid work order).  In the most serious cases, you may be sent to prison for up to six months.

Drink Driving Ban

As has been mentioned, the minimum ban that the magistrates can impose is one year long.  However, if you have been convicted of a previous drink driving offence within the last ten years then the driving disqualification has to be for a minimum of three years.  It should be borne in mind that there is no upper limit concerning how long the magistrates can disqualify you for.

The Drink Drive Course

Although the minimum ban is twelve months for a drink drive offence, the magistrates have a discretion to offer you the drink drive rehabilitation course.  If you complete this course by a certain date which the magistrates will specify, then the length of your driving ban will be reduced, usually by a quarter.  For example, if you were banned for one year but allowed to do the drink drive rehabilitation course then your ban would normally be reduced to nine months.  You would have to pay for the course which can cost up to £250.

What is the Drink Drive Limit?

The alcohol limit in England and Wales for drivers is;

35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath  OR

80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood  OR

107 milligrams per 100 millilitres of urine.

At the police station you will normally be required to give two specimens of breath, the lower reading will be the one used as prosecution evidence before the court.  You could, however, be required to give a blood or urine specimen if;

a police officer believes that, because of medical reasons, a breath test cannot be taken  OR

a working breathalyser is not available  OR

the reading given by the breathalyser appears unreliable.

How Many Units Can You Drive On?

One unit is the equivalent of 8 grams or 10 millilitres of pure alcohol.

The NHS has pointed out that there is no way of being certain how many units of alcohol you can consume and be below the legal driving limit.  The amount of alcohol needed for one person to be above the limit can be very different to that needed for another person.  It depends on numerous different factors including gender, weight, age, when you last ate and what you ate, tiredness and stress levels.

Failing To Proved A Specimen

Refusal to give a specimen either of breath, blood or urine when lawfully requested to do so by the police at the police station is a separate offence punishable by a minimum of a twelve month driving ban (or a minimum three year ban if this is the second offence within ten years) and an unlimited fine.  Again, for the more serious offences of this nature you could receive a community penalty or even up to six months in prison.  A defence may be available if it can be shown that there was a reasonable excuse for not providing a specimen.

Drunk in Charge

Being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle is another separate offence.  A lot of people find it hard to believe that you can be convicted of an offence when you were not driving the vehicle but just in charge of it while over the alcohol limit, for example asleep in the stationery vehicle.  For this offence, the magistrates have to disqualify the person for as long as they see fit or impose ten penalty points.  (If these points bring a person’s total to 12 points or more on their licence then they will be disqualified for at least six months unless they successfully argue exceptional hardship).

There will be a fine of up to £2,500.  For more serious offences there could be a community penalty or a prison sentence of up to three months.

A frequently used defence to this allegation is that there was no likelihood that the person would drive whilst over the drink drive limit.

Drink Driving Solicitors

As you can see, the drink driving penalties for alcohol related motoring offences are severe and can even result in prison.  If you are accused of such an offence, it is important that you instruct a drink driving solicitor who specialises in this area of the law.  At Speeding Law Solicitors we are very skilled at finding defences to such allegations, often these are technical in nature.  Our leading driving offence solicitor Philip Hatvany has an 85% success rate at trial for motoring offences going back to 2011.  Even if no defence can be found, he is very skilled at putting the client in a good light before the court and obtaining the best possible outcome.  He has never had a client go to prison for a drink drive offence.  If you face drink driving charges, ring Mr Hatvany for a FREE initial consultation on FREEPHONE 0800 9098110.