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FAQ

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  • Why is drink driving law so technical?
    There are few other areas of the law in which the police have so many powers to take different types of bodily specimens from a suspect. Drink driving is also one of the few offences where a suspect can be compelled by police to carry out a positive course of action ie. provide breath or bodily specimens and that the consequence of not doing so is prosecution. As a result, drink driving legislation has set out a strict procedure which must be followed by the police. Even a slight deviation from this procedure can result in a drink driving case being dismissed.
  • Could I have avoided disqualification by deliberately failing to provide a breath, blood or urine sample?
    No. The offence of failure to provide a specimen without reasonable excuse also carries a mandatory disqualification of at least 12 months on conviction.
  • I’m unhappy with the Magistrates’ decision – what are my options?
    You have a right of appeal to the Crown Court against the decision to find you guilty and/or the sentence imposed. Any appeal must be lodged within 21 days of the Magistrate’ decision. This can be extended by application to the Crown Court. An appeal to the Crown Court is a re-hearing of the case.

    You also have a right to appeal to the High Court if you think that the decision made by the Court was wrong in law.

  • What other penalties can the Court impose?
    There are a range of options open to the Court. If the reading is below the level where custody may be considered, but still significantly over the legal limit, a Community penalty may be considered made up of unpaid work. If the Court believes that you would benefit from it, a rehabilitation order made up of attendance on a Course could be ordered. As an alternative to custody, a curfew with conditions could be imposed.
  • Could I go to prison for drink driving?
    A custodial sentence may be imposed for drink driving depending on the seriousness of the offence. The sentencing guidelines suggest that this should be considered where the alcohol reading is roughly three and a half times the legal limit.

    If the reading was at or above this level, you are in danger of a custodial sentence.Certain strategies may be adopted to minimise the risk of going to prison, making it even more essential that action is taken as quickly as possible and that you instruct a solicitor to advise and represent you. The Court has the power to suspend a custodial sentence for up to two years.

  • How much will the fine be if I am convicted of drink driving?
    The maximum fine for drink driving is £5,000 but it is assessed according to your weekly income. So the more you earn the more the fine may be if you are convicted.

    To view the Magistrates Court sentencing guidelines click here.

  • How long could I be disqualified for?
    Magistrates have sentencing guidelines for drink driving offences. These state that the length of disqualification should be determined primarily by the alcohol reading provided. If there are strong mitigating factors such as a genuine reason for driving these can reduce the length of the ban. Conversely, if there are aggravating features such as an accident, injuries caused to others or evidence of lack of co-operation with the police these can result in a longer disqualification being imposed.
    To view the Magistrates Court sentencing guidelines click here.
  • Can I use the fact I need my licence for work to avoid a ban?
    Drink driving carries a mandatory disqualification on conviction. This means that if you plead guilty or are found guilty after a trial, you will be disqualifed from driving for at least 12 months. The only exception is if you successfully argue special reason such as if your drinks may have been spiked or you drove as a result of a genuine emergency.
  • How long do the police have to charge me with drink driving or other related charge?
    In relation to drink driving, drunk in charge or failure to provide a specimen, the police must charge you within 6 months of the alleged offence. Alternatively they are required to lay a summons or Court or issue a postal requisition within the same period. If they do not do so within the time limit the case against you will not be valid.
  • How much can I drink and still be under the legal limit?
    There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on many variables, such as your height, weight, the timeframe within which alcohol is consumed and the way your body metabolises alcohol which varies from one individual to the next.
  • What is the legal drink driving limit?
    The limit for alcohol is 35ug of alcohol per 100ml of breath, 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood or 107mg/100ml of urine.