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Drunk in charge

You can be accused of an alcohol related motoring offence even if it is accepted that you were not driving the vehicle.

This offence is known as being drunk in charge of a vehicle. If the police suspect that you were “in charge” of the vehicle, they can arrest you and require you to provide specimens in the same manner as if you were actually driving. The same procedures apply to the offence of being drunk in charge as in drink driving. In addition, a defence is available if it can be proven that there was no likelihood of you driving the vehicle whilst over the legal limit. If this defence is relied upon, expert forensic evidence relating to the time that you would have dropped below the legal limit is normally required.

In such cases the police may undertake their own forensic enquiries before a charging decision is made. Why give the police a head start? If you have been bailed pending a decision to charge you or not, why not use the time available to obtain advice and make arrangements for your own forensic report. If nothing else, it will give you peace of mind so you know what you are likely to be facing and what possible defences will be available to you if you have been charged.

One major difference between drink driving and drunk in charge is the range of sentencing options open to the Court on conviction. Drunk in charge does not carry an automatic disqualification but intead carries a minimum 10 penalty points or discretionary disqualification.