Driving with excess alcohol / drink or drug driving
Just been breathlysed? Charged with excess alcohol? Our Motoring Prosecution Team can tell you if you have a Defence or, if not, ensure you are disqualified from driving for as short a period as possible.
A disqualification from driving is the usual starting point if you are convicted of drink driving but there may be a Defence available to you and so you should contact us for expert advice as soon as you know you face being prosecuted for any alcohol related Motoring Offence – make a note of our 24/7 Help Line number.
A conviction can
- be something you have to report to your Professional body
- see your Insurance premium increase
- result in your losing your job
- result in your going to Prison
If you agree to attend an Alcohol Awareness Course your period of disqualification will be reduced by 25% and there may be Special Reasons why you should not be disqualified at all so Legal advice in this complex area of the Law is essential.
Drink Driving – The Law
You can be charged with a number of alcohol related Offences
- driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol in blood, breath or urine
- driving whilst unfit through drink or drugs
- being in charge of a vehicle when unfit due to drink or drugs
The “driving whilst unfit” Charge also applies to public places and is often used where the Police suspect drug use where no technology for drug detection is available. Evidence from a Doctor who has examined you can be enough to convict, but we can sometimes challenge this evidence.
You have to go through two procedures before you can be charged with drink driving.
- the road side breath test is used to help the Police decide if they have grounds for arresting you. The device used is usually a variation of the Lion Alcometer Series of portable breathalysers. It will indicate whether you have passed or failed the Test or whether no Reading can be given. It may also give an indication of the level of alcohol in your breath
- evidence to be relied on in Court has to be obtained at a Police Station, either by a reading from a fixed position Breathalyser or by a blood or urine sample. The Breathalysers in Police Stations are usually either the Lion Intoxilyzer 6000 or the Intoximeter ECIR
The Police Officer supervising the breath test must be trained in the use of the equipment and give
- clear instructions beforehand as to how you should use the equipment
- ask you various questions including whether you have recently consumed alcohol, used mouthwash or taken medication
- give a statutory warning that failure to supply two specimens of breath will result in Prosecution for that reason alone
- offer you the Print Out once two specimens of breath have been obtained
Failure to follow this Procedure could give you a Defence to a Charge of Failing to Provide a Specimen of Breath or even of driving with excess alcohol. Make a note of everything that was done and said while you were in custody even though it does not seem important to you at the time.
Blood and Urine Tests in Drink Driving Cases
Under certain circumstances you have the option of a blood or urine test
- this should be offered if your breath reading is between 40 and 50 micrograms per 100 millilitres of blood
- a blood or urine test is considered to be more accurate than a breath test, which is only considered to be a reflection of the true 80 mg per 100 millilitres limit
- because the alcohol ‘blood to breath ratio’ differs in individuals, if you are just over the limit on a breathalyser you may be under the limit for blood, which is the true indicator
- you will be technically guilty but may not be disqualified if the Test shows you to have an unusual ratio of alcohol in breath compared to blood levels
- If the Police put inappropriate pressure on you not to exercise your right to have a blood or urine sample this can amount to a Defence. Do not take any notice of a Police Officer giving his own opinion that a blood test is a bad idea
However we must show that the advice was
- more than just an opinion
- was inappropriate and
- led you to decline the blood test
If you were in this situation then call us now.
We cannot advise you as to whether you have a Defence until we have full instructions from you but the following are matters we will investigate on your behalf
- was your drink spiked or laced or was something else responsible for the reading
- did you consume alcohol after you stopped driving and before you were breathlysed
- can you rely on a Defence of necessity
- did the Police fail to follow the specific Procedures that they must adhere to
If you are convicted of driving with excess alcohol Magistrates will usually follow the Sentencing Guidelines they have which see the length of the disqualification rise depending on
- your alcohol reading
- your previous convictions – if you have been convicted of a similar Offence within the previous 10 years your disqualification will start at 3 years
- any aggravating features arising from the facts of your Case
A minimum 12 month disqualification is required but in most cases attendance on an Alcohol Awareness Course will be offered and this will reduce the ban by 25%.
We can advise you as to the likely outcome in your Case if you are convicted but the following should assist
- a longer ban is likely for readings over 55 micrograms in breath
- a Community Penalty (unpaid work in the Community) is likely where the Reading is over 85 micrograms in breath
- a Prison sentence should be considered where the Reading exceeds 115 in breath
Our experience is that being represented by an experienced Solicitor who has thoroughly prepared your Case can make a significant difference to the outcome so do not delay in contacting us.
You may feel that as you have no Defence and are going to be disqualified from driving there is no point contacting us but you should bear in mind that we see many people represent themselves in Court who receive worse sentences than we would expect if we had been acting on their behalf.
This is a serious Offence and you should contact us without delay for expert advice.
We will look for
- the absence of aggravating features that could see a worse sentence imposed
- the presence of factors that show a lower degree of culpability
- the impact on you, your family and your business or career of a conviction and disqualification
- any other issue we believe will persuade Magistrates to impose a shorter period of disqualification