Drink Driving

The law defines drink driving as driving, or attempting to drive, a vehicle on a public road or highway after consuming a quantity of alcohol that the proportion of it within a person’s breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit (S5. Road Traffic Act 1988).

Alcohol that we consume is eliminated from our bodies at varying rates dependant on various factors such as your age, gender, weight and height and whether or not you have eaten or taken medication. The legal limits are:

• 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 ml of breath
• 80mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood
• 107mg of alcohol in 100 ml of urine

Sentences for drink driving vary dependant on the various mitigating or aggravating factors present in an individual case offence and on your personal mitigation.

Penalties range from:

• A fine of up to £5000, unpaid work in the community or an electronically monitored curfew, right up to six months imprisonment
• A mandatory minimum disqualification of 12 months;
• The mandatory driving ban increases to a minimum of three years if you have a previous relevant conviction within the last 10 years;
• A driving ban could lead to you losing your job;
• Your insurance premiums will increase following a conviction for drink driving;
• You will now have a criminal record. The conviction will only become spent after the time scales set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. That means that you may have to inform your current or prospective employers of this conviction.

If you are stopped by the Police, they can request a roadside breath test if they have a reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence of excess alcohol. If the test is positive the police can arrest you for drink driving and take you to the police station. At the police station they will request an evidential sample i.e. a sample that would be admissible at court.

Usually the police will request a breath sample. They have to follow statutory procedures and will take two breath samples. If the two samples are unreliable, the machine is not functioning properly or you have a medical reason for not providing a breath sample, the Police will instead seek to take a sample of blood or urine. If the police fail to follow the statutory procedures then such a failure may render the sample you have provided inadmissible at court. We will take your instructions, obtain all relevant evidence and consider it and advise you if there are any flaws in the police case that would provide you with a defence to the charge.

In cases where there is no defence we know how to present your case at court in order to achieve the lowest sentence/ shortest disqualification from driving in the circumstances.
We will also assess your case to establish if there may be a “special reason” in law to avoid a driving ban even if you have no defence. These are complex legal arguments that are governed by an ever evolving body of complex case law and we are expert in presenting these arguments to the court.

We approach every case with tenacity and a forensic attention to detail and we always aim to achieve the most favourable outcome for our clients.

Experience has taught us that not everyone is guilty and we will identify where mistakes have been made by the police or prosecuting body and we know how to prepare and present the most robust defence possible in order to protect your driving licence.


Early return of your driving licence following a conviction for drink or drug driving

In some circumstances, a Magistrates Court will consider allowing you to get your driving licence back earlier than determined by the original Court who convicted you. We can advise and represent you in making an application to the Court to get your licence back early.

This application must be made in person before the same Court that imposed the original ban and it can only be made if you have been disqualified;

  • For less than four years, and two years have passed
  • Less than 10 years, but not less than four, and half of the period of disqualification has passed or
  • Five years has passed in other cases.

In considering your application, the Court will consider various factors including, but not limited to, your character and personal conduct and/or the nature of the offence for which you were disqualified for. Everyone’s personal situation is different and it is essential that the application presents a persuasive argument for the early reinstatement of your driving licence, all supported by appropriate evidence. We will advise and assist you in preparing the application, and will attend Court with you to present the most compelling argument.

In our experience, Court’s are more open to an application if you can demonstrate a positive and convincing argument as to why you need to drive at this stage (e.g. for a new job) and if you can show that you have addressed any underlying factors that led to the original conviction, so that they can be satisfied that you no longer poses a risk on the roads.

If you have previously made an application for the early return of your driving licence, we can represent you in making a fresh application, as long as 3 months have passed since your previous application.