Drink Driving Law
Alcohol affects a person’s ability to drive safely and increases the risk of accidents that may result in injuries and fatalities.
In the United Kingdom, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level above 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. This is the legal limit for drink driving in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the legal limit is lower, at 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
It is important to note that even if your BAC level is below the legal limit, you can still be convicted of drink driving if you are deemed to be unfit to drive due to the influence of alcohol. Additionally, young or newly-qualified drivers may face stricter limits and penalties.
If you have been charged with drink driving in the UK, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice as soon as possible to understand your rights and options, and to ensure that your case is handled properly and fairly.
Caught Drink Driving, What Happens Next?
If you have been pulled over on suspicion of drink driving, you will be asked to perform a preliminary roadside breath test.
If your breath reading exceeds the legal threshold of 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, you will be arrested. If you refuse or fail to provide a breath reading, you can be arrested.
You’ll then be taken to the police station and asked for an evidential specimen of breath, blood or urine. If you fail or refuse to provide an evidential specimen, you will receive an automatic fine and mandatory driving disqualification of 12 months.
Depending on the results, you’ll either be released without charge, bailed pending further investigation, or charged.
Drink Driving Charge – How We Can Help
If you’re charged with a drink driving offence, you’ll be given a date when you are required to attend a hearing at the Magistrates’ Court.
The penalties for drink driving can be severe, with a minimum disqualification period of 12 months, hefty fines, and a potential prison sentence.
So it’s no surprise most people find this to be an extremely stressful, worrying time. We highly recommend seeking expert legal advice well in advance of your court hearing.
Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of motorists defend drink driving cases.
Our team will listen to your case, and then connect you with a specialist drink driving barrister.
Your barrister will outline your legal position, potential consequences, timelines, and next steps. If you choose to go ahead, your barrister will manage all aspects of your case, including court representation, and we’ll handle all the admin on your behalf (known as ‘outsource clerking’).
What are the penalties for drink driving in the UK?
In the UK, the penalties for a standard drink driving conviction can include:
- A fine of up to £5,000
- Up to 6 months in prison
- A driving ban of at least 1 year
- An endorsement (criminal record) on your driving licence for 11 years
In more severe cases, such as causing death by careless driving when under the influence of alcohol, the punishment can be much higher.
How many units can you drink and drive?
The legal limit equates to about 2-3 units of alcohol for the average person, although this can vary based on factors such as weight, age, gender, metabolism, and the type and amount of alcohol consumed.
The only way to be sure that you are not over the limit is to not drink any alcohol at all before driving.
What possible defences to drink driving are there?
Common defences include:
- Challenging the accuracy or reliability of the test: The defendant may be able to argue that the breath, blood or urine test was not properly calibrated or administered, leading to an incorrect reading.
- Medical conditions: The defendant may argue that a medical condition, such as acid reflux, caused an elevated blood-alcohol level. Similarly, they may argue medicine they’re taking has affected the results.
- Improper police procedure: The defendant may argue that the police did not follow proper procedure when stopping, arresting, or administering a test.
- Necessity: The defendant may argue that they were driving under the influence of alcohol because it was necessary, such as driving a person to the hospital in an emergency.
- Distance: The defendant may argue that they were driving a short distance in a quiet location, e.g. to repark a car.
- Ignorance: The defendant may not have been aware they were over the limit if, for example, their drink was spiked.
Do I need to work with a drink driving solicitor?
In a drink driving case, solicitors usually provide overall management of the case, including gathering evidence and documentation, negotiating with other parties, and providing legal advice. However, they will typically instruct a barrister for the court hearing.
This is because barristers tend to be more specialised in their area of law and often have more experience in presenting complex legal arguments and advocating in a courtroom setting.
Through our service, we allow you to work directly with a barrister, cutting out the solicitors – potentially saving thousands of in additional costs.
So, in short, no, you do not need to work with a drink driving solicitor. The alternative option is to work with a barrister directly.
If you’d like to learn more about this option, please get in touch. But either way, you must seek advice from a legal professional – solicitor or barrister. The choice is yours.