Getting the right help: Drink driving offences

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Nick Titchener

Managing Partner

Drink Driving

Drink driving is a serious criminal offence and if you are found guilty, a conviction can have life changing consequences. Seeking specialist legal advice and taking the right actions from this advice can mean the difference between receiving a fine, points on your licence or even a prison sentence.

Drink driving and the law

If you are stopped by the police under suspicion that you are over the drinking driving limit you will be asked to carry out an immediate breathalyser test by the side of the road. In England and Wales the legal alcohol limit is 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath.

If you are taken to a police station you will be asked to provide a further evidential breath sample using a more complex breathalyser. Further tests may also be carried out on a specimen of your blood or urine.

It is impossible to say exactly how many units you can drink in order to remain under the legal drink drive limit. The level of alcohol in your blood will depend upon a range of different factors including:

  1. Your age
  2. Your height
  3. Your weight and build
  4. Your metabolism
  5. Your sex
  6. What you’ve eaten that day

What are the penalties for drink driving?

If you are found guilty of drink driving, there are a number of penalties which you face, including:

  1. A driving ban
  2. A fine
  3. A community sentence

Driving bans for drink driving

If you are found guilty of committing the criminal offence of drink driving, you will almost certainly face a driving ban. Driving bans for drink driving begin at 12 months in length if the conviction is a first time offence.

If the conviction is a second offence which takes place within 10 years of the first offence, disqualification begins at a minimum of three years. Further driving penalties can vary depending upon your alcohol level reading and other circumstances.

Fines for drink driving

If you are found guilty of drink driving with a lower alcohol reading (less than 2.5 times the limit), you may receive a fine of up to £2500, in the absence of what are known as ‘aggravating features’.

Aggravating features that increase the risk of a significant sentence include:

  • Previous drink drive offences
  • Involvement in an accident
  • Carrying passengers
  • Poor weather conditions

Community sentencing for drink driving

Once an alcohol reading goes above two and half times the legal limit, the offence of drink driving becomes punishable by community sentencing.

You may receive:

  1. A probation order
  2. Community punishment
  3. A curfew at your home

Custodial sentences for drink driving

If an alcohol reading is beyond 120 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, the court will always consider a prison sentence. Drink driving convictions are recorded, giving you a criminal record.

Special circumstances

Although drink driving is termed as an ‘Offence Carrying Mandatory Disqualification’ this is not strictly true. As with all motoring offences that may be punished by penalty points or disqualification, if certain factors have prevailed, the court may use its discretion to avoid imposing the mandatory drink driving disqualification or points.

Special reasons may include:

  • Not knowing your drink was spiked
  • Driving only a very short distance
  • Certain emergency situations

What should you do if you are charged with drink driving?

Drink driving laws and procedures are complex, yet there are a number of potential lines of defence. If you are charged with the criminal offence of drink driving, the best course of action is to seek expert legal assistance from a specialist motoring offence solicitor. There are ways that you can challenge the evidence in relation to these cases, albeit you do require expert advice from solicitors that specialise in this area. There are many firms that claim to be specialists, but don’t have the reputation or necessary experience to back that up.

If you are facing a conviction for drink driving, get in touch with our team of specialist solicitors at Lawtons. We have the knowledge and expertise to represent you in any motoring and drink driving case. They will work with you to get the fairest possible outcome for you.

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