A conviction for drink driving can have serious consequences which can impact on many areas of your life.

How many units of alcohol can you drink and drive?

The legal limit of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath is 35 micrograms. Specimens of blood and urine may also be tested. However, how this equates to how many units of alcohol someone can safely drink before driving is more difficult to gauge, as there are all sorts of factors that affect how quickly the alcohol is processed and metabolised by an individual.

A low reading may result in a fine, if no aggravating features are present in the offence. If the reading is above 2 ½ times the legal limit, community sentencing comes into effect, ranging from a probation order to community service or even a home curfew.

If the reading is above 120 in breath, the court will consider imposing a prison sentence.

All drink driving convictions are recorded, resulting in a criminal record.

What are the penalties for drink driving?

The penalties for drink driving in the UK depend on the severity of the offence, but there will always be a disqualification unless there are special reasons surrounding the offence. The length of the disqualification will be affected by the level of the reading and extent of impairment. Generally speaking:

  1. Being in charge of a vehicle whilst over the legal alcohol limit could result in a prison sentence of up to 3 months, a fine of up to £2,500 or a driving ban
  2. Driving or attempting to drive whilst over the legal limit could result in 6 months in prison, an unlimited fine or a driving ban of at least 12 months, increasing to 3 years if there is an existing conviction which took place within the last 10 years
  3. Refusing to provide a specimen of blood, urine or breath when required to do so by the police could lead to 6 months in prison, an unlimited fine or a driving ban of a minimum of 12 months
  4. Causing death by dangerous driving whilst over the legal alcohol limit could result in 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, a driving ban of a minimum of 2 years and an extended driving test to regain your driving licence

What are aggravating features in a drink driving conviction?

The evidence of aggravating factors in a drink driving offence can increase the severity of a sentence. Factors include:  

  1. Previous drink driving offences
  2. Involvement in an accident
  3. Carrying passengers
  4. Poor weather conditions

What are special reasons in a drink driving conviction?

Drink driving is classified as an ‘offence carrying mandatory disqualification’, however the court can use its discretion in sentencing, using penalty points or a term of disqualification if ‘special reasons’ are apparent.

These reasons include:

  1. Only driving a short distance
  2. Not knowing your drink was spiked
  3. Some emergency situations

What to do if you are accused of drink driving

If you have been accused of drink driving, seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible. Drink driving law is complex, so the advice of an expert is essential. Consulting a specialist solicitor at Lawtons can make the difference between receiving a fine, penalty points and a prison sentence.

For advice and assistance, get in touch with our experienced team of driving offence solicitors. Call us on 0333 577 0522.

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