In charge of a motor vehicle while over the prescribed alcohol limit or whilst unfit through alcohol or drugs.

The law says that you are unfit through alcohol or drugs if your ability to drive is impaired by drugs or alcohol. The police/prosecution can seek to prove this through observations of your condition, impairment tests and/or the analysis of your blood and urine.

The current legal limits for alcohol 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;

Penalties include:

• A discretionary disqualification of up to 12 months;
• 10 penalty points (unless Special Reasons apply);
• A sentence which ranges from a fine of up to £2500, through to a community sentence such as unpaid work in the community or an electronically monitored curfew, or up to three months imprisonment

Typical examples of “in charge” cases that we successfully defend are where the driver has returned to the vehicle for some reason or has been found asleep in the vehicle in a public place, while unfit through drink or drugs or over the drink or drug driving limit.

In deciding whether you are deemed to be ‘in charge’ of the vehicle, the Court will consider the following:

• Whether you were in the vehicle or how far away you were from it
• What you were doing at the relevant time
• Whether you were in possession of a key that fitted the ignition
• Whether there was evidence of an intention to take or assert control of the vehicle by driving or otherwise
• Whether any person was in, at or near the vehicle and, if so, the particulars in respect of that person.


It is a defence to prove that there was no likelihood of you driving the vehicle while unfit or over the prescribed limit for alcohol or drugs.