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Being convicted of drink driving can have life-changing consequences, as it could impact upon your ability to do your job and affect your personal life. Drink driving is a complex area of law and obtaining legal advice from experienced drink driving solicitors, can make a real difference regarding the penalty you receive.
The sentence will depend on the seriousness of the offence and can include a driving ban, a fine or even a prison sentence. The maximum sentence for driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol is an unlimited fine and/or 6 months in prison.
It is vital that anyone accused of drink driving seek expert legal advice from specialist drink driving solicitors who can advise and defend you.
Driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol is an offence according to Section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988:
“If a person…drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place…after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit he is guilty of an offence.”
It is also an offence to be in charge of a motor vehicle with excess alcohol in your system in Section 5(1)(b) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
In England and Wales, the alcohol limit for drivers is:
Any driver having above these amounts would be committing a drink driving offence.
There are many different factors which affect how quickly an individual metabolises alcohol. As such, it is extremely difficult to have a blanket rule of how much alcohol it is safe to drink before driving and still be under the legal limit.
If the police suspect someone driving, attempting to drive or in charge of a vehicle has been drinking, they can ask them to take a breath test.
Failure to provide a breath test without reasonable excuse is an offence and will result in an arrest.
If the person does not pass the breath test, they will then be taken to the police station for a second, evidential sample of breath. Then, if this test shows a positive result for drink driving, the person will be charged with a drink driving offence.
Driving or attempting to drive after consuming excess alcohol is triable summarily only. This means a Magistrates’ Court deals with this offence.
This is also the case for being in charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol.
The sentence will depend on the seriousness of the offence and can include a driving ban, a fine or even a prison sentence.
The maximum sentence for driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol is an unlimited fine and/or 6 months in prison. The driver will be disqualified from driving for at least 12 months. This could be reduced if the driver agrees to complete a drink-drive rehabilitation scheme (DDRS) course.
If the offender has received 2 or more driving disqualifications of 56 days or more in the past 3 years, they will be disqualified for a minimum of 2 years.
If they have been convicted of a relevant offence in the past 10 years, they will be disqualified for at least 3 years.
The maximum sentence for being in charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol is a fine of up to a maximum of £2,500 and/or 3 months in prison. The offender could also receive 10 penalty points or lose their licence.
Anyone convicted of causing death by dangerous driving with excess alcohol could receive a 14-year prison sentence, a lengthy driving disqualification, an unlimited fine and the need to resit an extended test in order to get their driving licence back.
Drink driving sentences are worked out with regard to the level of alcohol discovered in the breath, blood or urine test.
Once the court has worked out the starting point sentence with this information, they can then adjust this sentence depending on any aggravating or mitigating factors.
The alcohol limit in England and Wales for drivers is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.
If an offender was discovered to have between 81 and 137 milligrams, the starting point would be a Band C fine and a disqualification of between 12 and 16 months.
If an offender was found to have between 276 and 345 milligrams (and above), the starting point would be a 12-week prison sentence and a driving disqualification of between 29 and 36 months.
If either of these offenders had been convicted of another relevant offence in the past 10 years, the driving disqualification could be much longer.
Aggravating factors for drink driving, which can increase the seriousness of the offence, include:
Mitigating factors for drinking driving, which can decrease the seriousness of the offence, include:
Being convicted of a drink driving offence can have serious consequences. Receiving a driving disqualification of any length can result in everything from job loss (if your job depends on you driving), to difficulties in your personal life.
As a result, it is vital that anyone accused of drink driving seek expert legal advice from specialist drink driving solicitors who can advise and defend you, if necessary.
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