Drink Driving

Drink Driving

In today’s society, many people rely on having a driving licence. The impact of losing your licence due to disqualification after a charge, such as drink driving, can have a major impact on your life as well as on your family and your livelihood.

Drink driving, (technically known as driving with excess alcohol), carries a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment but first time offenders with a moderately low reading will often receive a fine.

For many, the focus of a drink driving conviction is not the sentence but the disqualification period that follows a conviction.  Drink driving attracts a mandatory driving disqualification of 12 months but disqualification periods can be as long as 3 years for more serious first time offending.  For repeat offenders the disqualification period can be longer than 3 years.

It is very important that anyone facing a drink driving charge takes expert legal advice at an early stage in proceedings. Our specialist defence solicitors can advise you on your individual case and assist with obtaining the best possible outcome.

Limits for drink driving

The prosecution must prove that the accused was over the legal limit for alcohol consumption whilst driving,  In order to do this the Police can request a sample of breath, blood or urine from a suspect.  The current legal limits are as follows:

  • 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 ml of breath.
  • 80 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 ml of blood.
  • 107 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 ml of urine.

Penalties for drink driving

Defendants often wrongly believe that the penalty for drink driving is a disqualification period (a driving ban).  In fact, the disqualification period is something that the Court has no option but to impose (unless it finds special reasons not to) and it is an order of the Court that runs alongside the penalty.

The penalty for drink driving will depend on how high the reading was as well as the seriousness of the circumstances surrounding the offence. The number of previous offences committed will also affect the sentence:  The sentence can range from a fine to up to 6 months imprisonment.

Disqualification periods for drink driving

  • A first offence has a mandatory minimum disqualification of 12 months .
  • A second offence within 10 years increases the mandatory minimum disqualification period to three years.
  • The mandatory minimum disqualification increases to 2 years if you have received 2 disqualifications of 56 days or more within a 3 year period of the drink drive offence.
  • If the Court imposes a sentence of imprisonment for a second offence of drink driving then it can increase the disqualification period to up to 5 years depending upon the level of alcohol consumed.

Special circumstances

There are certain circumstances in drink driving cases where an offender can offer special reasons for not being disqualified from driving. This is a very complicated and technical area of the law with a vast amount of relevant case law. It is highly recommended that you take advice if you are charged with drink driving to see if this applies to your case. The onus of proving special reasons rests on the defence.

Special reasons must relate to the commission of the offence rather than circumstances relating to the offender. A special reason is defined as:

  • A mitigating or extenuating circumstance.
  • Something that does not amount to a defence to the charge.
  • Something directly connected to the commission of the offence.
  • Something that the court ought to properly take into consideration when imposing the sentence.

Possible special reasons include:

  • Very short distance travelled.
  • Driving due to a medical or other emergency.
  • The driver’s drinks being spiked with alcohol without their knowledge.

Defence Solicitors St Albans, Leighton Buzzard & Stevenage

Our specialist defence lawyers can guide you on all aspects of drink driving offences and the possible defences. Our experienced solicitors regularly advise and represent clients in relation to road traffic offences.

Our solicitors work from offices in Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire and represent clients outwith these areas as we can see at home, in prison or police custody if necessary.

We can advise you under the Legal Aid scheme (this is generally not available except for the most serious offences) but if public funding is not available we will quote you a competitive price for our work. If you are successful, we can apply for a Defendant’s Cost order but your costs would only be refunded at Legal Aid scheme rates which are significantly less than what you would pay us privately.  Whilst this seems grossly unfair, it is the system that Parliament has deemed appropriate and is currently in force.

Contact our expert Defence Solicitors St Albans, Leighton Buzzard & Stevenage for further assistance.

Ask a question

First name *

Surname *

Email *

Phone number *

Please outline your question for JSP Law