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If you have been caught drink driving, it’s understandable you might be worried about the criminal charges you might face in court. The time you might have to spend in prison. And how long you’ll be banned from driving for.

In this article, we’ll explain the penalties you could face, but also clarify how a drink driving charge doesn’t always lead to a full ban.

Is drink driving a criminal offence? And what are the likely sentences?

The short answer to this is: Yes.

Drink driving carries a mandatory disqualification period, with the length of the ban depending on the level of alcohol in your system.

The minimum disqualification is 12-months (Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 section 34), but as you will see in our table below, this increases with the amount of alcohol on your breath, blood and urine samples:

Is drink driving an criminal offence?

The minimum period of disqualification increases to 2-years if you’ve been disqualified on two or more occasions for a period of 56 days or more within 3-years. And will increase to 3-years if in the past 10-years you’ve been convicted of any of the following offences:

  • Causing death by careless driving while under the influence
  • Driving or attempting to drive while unfit to do so
  • Driving or attempting to drive while over the limit
  • Failing to provide a specimen while suspected of driving or attempting to drive under the influence

And while drink driving is obviously a criminal offence, there are ways to avoid a drink driving charge.

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How to get off a drink driving charge.

Before we delve into how to fight your charge, it’s imperative you take legal advice from a road offence specialist solicitor.

Why?

Because you need a valid defence before going to court, something representing yourself just won’t do.

So, with that in mind, what needs to happen for you to stand a chance of having the charges

How to get off a drink driving charge.
Before we delve into how to fight your charge, it’s imperative you take legal advice from a road offence specialist solicitor.

Why?

Because you need a valid defence before going to court, something representing yourself just won’t do.

So, with that in mind, what needs to happen for you to stand a chance of having the charges dropped?

You need to look into the police process, and have proof that:

  • The prosecution is unable to prove you (the accused) were driving
  • You have witnesses to confirm you weren’t driving
  • You weren’t driving on a road or in a public place
  • The police didn’t follow the correct procedures when they took you breath, blood or urine sample
  • The police didn’t give you part of your blood sample for you to have tested independently
  • The police didn’t follow procedure when taking the sample to the hospital
  • There was a fault with the breathalyser
  • The analysis of your blood or urine wasn’t done properly

Failure to follow procedure can lead to incorrect or tainted results and is one of the most common reasons for having your drink driving charge quashed.

dropped?

What if I’m guilty of drink driving?

The prosecution must prove the case against you as the defendant so you have the right to plead not guilty .

Why?

Because even if you were over the limit, you have a right to challenge the allegations so you can check the evidence against you. This means, not only can you continue driving for up to 6-months after your charge, you also get to see the full case the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has against you.

This will include:

  • Witness statements
  • Police procedure during the arrest
  • The MGDD document (The forms used by the police during drink and drug arrests which contain the procedure they have to follow and the questions they should ask)

Only by checking the evidence against you can you find fault with it to mount a strong defence.

And even if all of the above aren’t helpful to your defence, there are arguments you can put forward to help you receive a less severe punishment.

These include:

Special Reasons

To state special reasons as part of your defence, you must be able to prove:

  • You were moving the vehicle a very short distance for safety purposes
  • Your drink was spiked
  • You were sleepwalking

Driving was unavoidable due to an emergency

Drivers Rehabilitation Course

At court, you can request to attend a drivers rehabilitation course. And if approved by the court, you:

  • Are contacted by course organisers
  • Pay for the course, which costs between £150-£200 (which is cheaper than a fine)
  • You take the course, which lasts around 5-days
  • The course organisers inform the DVLA of course completion

Once informed, your ban is then reduced 25% (down to 9-months on a 12-month conviction). Requesting a drivers rehabilitation course shows you’re willing to make amends for your actions and will be looked on favourably by the court.

Personal Mitigation

You can cite personal mitigation to reduce your disqualification, with reasons including:

  • You have a serious medical condition requiring urgent or long term treatment
  • Your age or lack of maturity affects the responsibility of your actions
  • You have a learning disability or mental health disorder
  • You are the primary or sole carer for dependent relatives/friends/clients
Personal & Work References

Citing personal and work references include:

  • Character references from a long-term friend, family member, employer, associate or somebody with recognition in their profession, e.g. doctor, police officer, priest
  • No previous, relevant or recent convictions
  • Exemplary good character and conduct

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Please be aware that while the above can help reduce your sentence, they’re unlikely to get all charges against you dropped.

Please be aware that while the above can help reduce your sentence, they’re unlikely to get all charges against you dropped.

Do you need advice from a motoring offence specialist?

Whether you’re guilty of drink driving, or have grounds for appeal, Keep My Driving Licence can help defend you. Not only by looking into the facts of your case. But also by explaining every possible outcome – so you get the right advice and support you when you need to get the best possible outcome from your case.

Get the right legal support.

Call us for free today on 0800 999 5535. Email carl.millar@millarssolicitors.co.uk or fill in the contact form below.

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Ask Carl

Have you got a question on motoring law you want the answer to?  Carl and our specialist team are here to answer your questions.