Drink Driving Charges in London

London is a mega-city notorious for the density of its traffic. It follows that drink driving charges are common: more drivers more offences – it’s that simple! Fact: every year thousands of motorists in London are prosecuted for a drink driving charge. Are you one of them?

If you need a drink driving/DUI solicitor in London, then why not consider going straight to a barrister specialist, offering 33 years courtroom experience, both as a former prosecutor (19+ years) and professional defence lawyer (having advocated in the Court of Appeal, High Court, Crown and Magistrates’ Courts), who brings passion to the work and equal commitment to obtaining the best
possible result for you, the client.

“Your preparation for and work in
court was fantastic . . you have my
highest recommendation.”
Staines Court.

Why not call today for a few minutes free initial legal help with your drink driving case, (plus your personalised drink driving penalty and disqualification calculator). A first call costs you nothing and may be the difference between a drink driving disqualification and being found “Not Guilty” as charged!

Time is critical: the police will have arranged the earliest possible court date (which you must attend). This is not a criticism of the police; as far as they are concerned you are guilty of a drink driving charge and should be off the road ASAP. But that haste can work to your advantage as it may have led to shoddy police work and possible “loophole defence”!

The question is can the police prove that you were guilty of that drink driving charge, or is there a defence which will scupper the case and lead to your acquittal (or “discontinuance” of the charge by the Crown Prosecution Service)? So pick up that ‘phone and call. Time is slipping away fast and, if you’ve never been in trouble before, then sympathetic and realistic advice is what you urgently require. Call now for those vital few minutes of initial free legal advice – what do you have to lose?

The Effects of a Drink Driving Conviction

If you suffer a drink driving conviction there will be major repercussions for you, your family and your working life. Such a conviction can be truly a life-changing and cataclysmic event for any person. If you are caught drink driving in London and convicted then you will face a minimum 12 driving ban; it could easily be a lot more. Potentially you could be imprisoned for up to six months depending upon your character (i.e. possible previous similar convictions), the nature of the allegation (e.g. a very high reading) and surrounding circumstances (e.g. a bad road traffic accident causing injury to others, etc.,).

“The court at Stratford kicked it out
when you pointed out that the
police had messed the procedure
up. I’m a free man – no ban – no
fine and I got my costs.”
Stratford (East London) Court

What can be Done to Help?

First, it important to remember that any drink driving offence may be charged in two different ways; though rarely, if ever, for the same set of circumstances. The old offence, charged before the advent of evidential breath test machines or EBTM (presently the Camic Datamaster, Intoximeter EC/IR & Lion Intoxylizer 6000UK ) was know as, and still is known as, “driving whilst unfit”. This offence may still be charged where, for whatever reason, there is no evidence from, say, an EBTM. The important point is that it is the fitness or otherwise to drive, of the suspect which is the crucial factor.

Therein “lies the wrinkle” because, though we all hope that a police officer or other witness will be objective, many clients instruct that the observations of those witnesses are incorrect and that he/she was perfectly fit to drive. The new offence, and now the most commonly charged offence – where reliance is usually placed on evidence from an EBTM – is known as driving whilst over the limit. However, the evidence of a drivers alcohol level may also be provided following an analysis of his/her blood or urine. The important point is that the analysis of the specimen (breath, blood or urine) is the crucial consideration.

Let’s deal first with driving whilst over the limit.

(i) Driving Whilst over the Limit
If you are pulled over in London and fail a roadside breath test, or fail to cooperate with that test, then you will be arrested and taken to the nearest police station which has a working EBTM. Generally speaking, particularly if the police believe that you may be just over the legal limit, then they will want to get you to the station ASAP. The reason for this is obvious: if you are close to the legal limit then, if the police take their time, you may be just under the limit by the time you provide a breath specimen on the EBTM. Remember also, the roadside test is not an evidential test but simply a screening test, which if you fail, will lead to your arrest but not necessarily conviction: for that the police need the evidence from the EBTM or blood or urine analysis.

At the station you will normally be required to provide two samples of breath on the EBTM (NB: The City of London Police use the Camic Datamaster and The Met’ the Intoximeter EC/IR). The legal limit is 35 in breath but the police only charge if you blow 40 or over (the offence charged will be contrary to section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1988).

If there is no EBTM available (it may have broken down or for some other reason), or if the police think that there may be some other problem with the machines function, then they will require an alternative sample from you, usually blood, though sometimes urine. If they do move to an alternative sample then that can lead to yet further difficulties and legal complexity for the police and prosecution.

The following, non-exhaustive list, gives examples of the sort of things which needs to be examined, if you are going to stand any chance of fighting the allegation, and possibly putting forward a “loophole defence”. The following should be checked:

1. Police procedures – if they’ve fouled up then that could be the end of the case;

2. The training and skill of the officer carrying out the check – if such ability is lacking, and leads to a mistake, then that may be the end of the case;

3. The operation and calibration of the machine – if it wasn’t operated correctly or not properly calibrated, then that could be the end of the case;

4. Interfering substance – if there was some interfering substance (mouth alcohol, reflux of contents from your stomach, etc.,) then that may be the end of the case;

5. Each and every element of the charge you face – if something has been missed then that could be the end of the case;

6. If you have a specific defence – for instance you believed that you were escaping an imminent threat, etc., then that could be the end of the case;

7. Whether or not the police acted fairly – if they didn’t and if they acted with what is called “mala fides”, then that could be the end of the case &

8. Whether or not the prosecution have made full disclosure of all relevant material and evidence – if they haven’t then that could be the end of the case.

It must be stressed that the above is by no means an exhaustive list of the things which could go wrong with the police case. The factual details of any drink driving case – contrary to popular belief – vary enormously, one case to another. What remains the same is that every client requires, and has a right to expect, from any drink driving/DUI solicitor or barrister, an eagerness to examine every aspect of the prosecution case, searching for the gaps and that possible “loophole defence”.

That lawyer needs to approach the problem with an open mind, thinking “outside the box” and not simply “pleading the matter off” with a blinkered acceptance of the police/CPS case.

(ii) Driving Whilst Unfit
This offence (contrary to section 4 of the Road Traffic act 1988) can also apply, not only to alcohol but also drugs. However, on this page of this site, alcohol only will be considered.

Because there is no evidence of analysis, as is the case with driving with excess alcohol (see (i) above), the evidence relied upon by the police and CPS will be far more subjective and, therefore, capable of challenge.

The prosecution must prove that you were driving a “mechanically propelled vehicle” on “a road or other public place” whilst “unfit to drive through drink”. It follows that if you were unfit for some other reason (e.g. fatigue, head injury, concussion, etc.,) but perhaps you had consumed, say, a single drink, then clearly your unfitness to drive might mistakenly be thought, by the police, to be as a consequence of excessive alcohol consumption, when they smell alcohol on your breath. However, this would clearly be incorrect and you should in those circumstances, if your defence is properly prepared and presented, be acquitted of driving whilst unfit. However, therein “lies the rub” particularly as we now all know that sometimes miscarriages of justice take place!

Therefore, impeccable preparation and robust advocacy is the key to defending such charges in London or elsewhere. Of course – and as ever – your drink driving solicitor or barrister will proceed on your instructions, confident that what he/she is being told is stated with complete integrity.