Do you know your rights in relation to drink driving offences?

Consideration has been given for the editing and publishing of this post

With March dominated by talk of the Budget, the recent government decision not to lower the drink driving limit has largely gone unnoticed. Despite groups campaigning for it to be lowered, the current limit still stands at 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, 80 milligrammes per 100 ml of blood and 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine in England and Wales (you can find out what the limits are Scotland by clicking here).

Drink driving is rightly viewed as a serious offence which is reflected by the range of penalties available to a Court from a disqualification of at least 12 months to a potential custodial sentence in the most serious cases. However, not all cases are straightforward. Many motorists are unaware of what their options are if charged with drink driving. What should you do if this occurs? What should you do if you think there’s been a mistake? Does it mean an automatic ban?

Read on if you’d like to know the answer to these questions…

1. What should I do if charged with drink-driving?

Like most charges, you should seek out the advice of a specialist solicitor before you do anything else. For many people, having a conviction for drink driving will have devastating consequences. A conviction of this type could affect future employment and travel plans not to mention the disruption caused by not being able to drive. Understanding exactly what your charge is and where you stand is crucial.

With this in mind, the more experienced your solicitor is with motoring offences the better, as they will have a clear idea of the strategies to be adopted to give you the best chance of avoiding conviction. For example, the team over at consists of dedicated legal professionals who have had over 300 cases dismissed by the courts since 2012 alone. To you, this could mean no conviction, no fine and no disqualification. It pays to have the right people on your side, and they’ll be able to tell if you have a case to defend the charge.

2. Will I will lose my driving licence?

There are some alcohol related motoring offences which do not carry a mandatory disqualification such as being in charge of a vehicle whilst over the prescribed limit or failure to provide having been in charge. These offences carry either penalty points or a discretionary disqualification. If a disqualification is imposed for being drunk in charge it is normally less than 12 months which is the minimum period for driving with excess alcohol (drink driving) and could be as short as 28 days.

Although most people fear losing their licence when charged with drink driving, there are often strategies that can be adopted to avoid this. It is vital if you feel there has been a wrong or inaccurate decision made or test taken, that you discuss this clearly with your solicitor. For example, if charged with a high alcohol level after a breathalyzer test but you suspect the machine to have taken an inaccurate reading, it could be possible that there is a fault with the machine.

Similarly, if you are charged with failure to provide a specimen for analysis in spite of having done everything to follow the instructions about how to blow into the device, an error with the machine itself or by the operator conducting the test may have occurred. This could provide you with a defence to the charge.

Or, if charged with the failure to provide samples, you could have a medical condition, such as a lung problem, which prevented you from giving the required sample. The most important thing is to gain the advice and assistant of a professional.

3. Do I have any rights of appeal from the decision of the Court?

No matter what the outcome of your case in the Magistrates’ Court, you’ll have the right to appeal to the Crown Court against a sentence or conviction of guilt. However, your appeal should be lodged within 21 days of the decision.

You may also appeal to the High Court if you think the decision of the Magistrates or Crown Court was wrong in law although such appeals are relatively rare.

Have you had a recent charge? Let us know your experience in the comments.

April 6, 2016 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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