We are a specialist firm of drink driving solicitors. We have vast experience in this field and are skilled in all statutory and procedural defences, as well as crafting expert mitigation. If you are charged with this offence, call our team now on 01623 397200.
Drink Driving Offences
There are various drink driving and related offences. They are all covered under the Road Traffic Act 1988 as follows:-
- driving (or in charge) when under the influence of drink or drugs (Section 4);
- driving (or in charge/attempting to drive) with excess alcohol (Section 5);
- failing to provide a specimen of breath for screening (Section 6(4));
- failing to provide a specimen for analysis (Section 7(6)).
What is the difference between the different offences?
You can be charged either with driving (or attempting to drive) or in charge. The difference is that the court has to disqualify you for drink driving but if you are drunk in charge then they can decide to give you 10 points instead of disqualifying you.
You would be charged with drunk in charge where you did not drive or the police cannot prove that you drove. See our specific page about Drunk in Charge.
Failing to provide a sample relates to a situation where you are arrested and required to provide a sample and either refuse or are unable to provide a sample. You will not be charged with driving whilst over the limit because there is no breathaliser reading to charge you with. You could be charged with driving whilst unfit if there is evidence you were drunk. This is similar to the old law before breathalisers were introduced, the police will give an opinion on whether you were ‘drunk’. This may include your ability to stand on one leg, walk in a straight line etc.
If you are charged with failing to provide a sample and the police believe you were driving or attempting to drive then there will be a disqualification. The court have no choice about this. See our specialist Failing to Provide a Specimen page for possible defences.
Can I avoid a disqualification?
The court have to disqualify you for a minimum of 12 months or 3 years if it your second offence within 10 years. There are only two ways to avoid a disqualification for drink driving. These are either special reasons or a defence to the charge.
There are three main special reasons to avoid a drink driving ban; emergency, spiked drinks or shortness of distance driven. The fact that you will lose your job or that others will suffer is not a reason to avoid a disqualification. Drink Driving Special Reasons are not easy to establish. For more details see our Special Reasons page
Drink Driving Defences.
There is a lot of controversy regarding drink driving defences at the moment. The courts have clamped down on solicitors encouraging people to plead not guilty where there is no reasonable prospect of success. The most senior District Judge in England and Wales heavily criticised the defence approach in the case of England Rugby player Danny Cipriani, stating “I also mention here that since the decisions in the cases on which Mr Lucas relies, the Criminal Procedure Rules have effected a sea change on the way cases should be conducted. I will also come back to that. In future, drink driving cases cannot be conducted in the way that this one was. All parties, including the court, have an obligation to ensure that only relevant and contested issues require evidence.”
Despite what a number of drink driving solicitors will tell you, there are fewer technical defences available to people charged with drink driving. There are still defences available but we will never give you a guarantee of success without fully reviewing the case. We will give you an honest assessment of the likelihood of being found not guilty.
We are not suggesting that you should not do all you can to ensure that a guilty plea is the appropriate plea, it is right that you are completely satisfied that the procedure has been carried out properly before pleading guilty but we will not tell you that you have a strong defence if that is not the case.
The genuine defences that survive are where you were not driving, where you drank after you drove or where the police failed to undertake a crucial part of the procedure.
What punishment will I get if I am guilty of drink driving?
This will depend on a number of factors, your reading on the breathaliser, your previous convictions (or lack of them) and the circumstances of the offence. Was there an accident? Did you have passengers? etc.
The court can deal with the matter by way of a fine and as low as a 12 month ban. They can also allow you to go on a drink drive rehabilitation course that will reduce your ban by up to 25%. If it is a serious matter the court can disqualify you for a much longer period and even send you to prison.
The way that the court will deal with you is set out in the sentencing guidelines. These are only guidelines and we will work with you to get you as short a disqualification as possible. We have a very good record of getting the disqualification reduced. Our drink driving solicitors represent people in all courts across England and Wales. We deal with most cases without the need for you to take time off to see us but we can see people face to face in Nottingham, Birmingham or London.