If you’ve been charged with a drink driving offence then you must act QUICKLY. The police will have arranged the earliest possible court hearing – THEREFORE TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE, AND TIME IS NOT ON YOUR SIDE!
Remember, a drink driving conviction will have major repercussions for you, your family, and working life: a very high reading could lead to imprisonment.
How will you survive a driving ban of 12 months or more, because that is what you face if found guilty?
“You told me from the beginning that you would go through the CPS evidence with a ‘fine toothed comb’ and this you did, discovering a loophole which blew their drink driving case to pieces!” Frances (February 2017) – Coventry Court
Help is at hand, but you need to make that first call – for a first consultation – which will not cost you a penny!
Important points to remember
- The Police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) want to process your case as quickly as possible and get you off the road. That urgency can be their undoing and could lead them to making fatal errors in their case!
- If convicted you are looking towards a minimum disqualification of 12 months: on first conviction this should be reduced by 25% if you complete a so-called ‘Drink Drive Awareness course’.
- Disqualifications are graded depending on the amount of alcohol in your system: thus, if you blow 40 in a breath test the ban will be 12 months, rising to 17 months if you blow 60. At 90 the ban will be for 23 months and so on – increasing in severity proportionate to your level of alcohol.
- Disqualification is not the only punishment. In addition – at the very least – you may be fined. However, for a very high reading (120 and above) then the starting point is 12 weeks imprisonment: thus even a first time offender could go to jail!
- A so-called ‘High Risk Offender’ (one who blew 87.5+, or was banned for drink driving during the previous 10 years, etc.) will not get his/her licence back merely by applying for it at the end of the ban, but may have to jump through various DVLA hoops (medical examinations, blood tests etc). Even then there is no guarantee that it will be restored!
The objective is to obtain the best possible outcome for you in a difficult and frightening situation!
Help is available to fight that drink driving ban
This involves, for example:
- Checking police procedures – if they’ve fouled up, then that could be the end of the case!
- Checking the calibration of the breath machine – if it wasn’t operated properly, then that could be the end of the case!
- Checking each and every element of the charge you face – if something has been missed, then that could be the end of the case!
- Checking if there was some interfering substance in the breath sample – if there was then that could be the end of the case!
- Checking if you have a specific defence – if you have then that could be the end of the case!
The Two Offences – Read More
There are 2 offences: (i) driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst being unfit to drive & (ii) driving or being in charge whilst over the drink driving limit.
1. DRIVING WHILST UNFIT
Though this offence was created by old road traffic legislation, Parliament decided to include it in the Road Traffic Act 1988 despite the fact that, by then, advances in technology allowed accurate measurements to be made of alcohol in a person’s breath. Thus we now have two separate offences dealing with largely the same type of situation.
The offence will normally be charged where, for whatever reason, the prosecution cannot bring specific evidence of excess alcohol in breath, blood or urine. As the police will normally have such evidence, then – as you will appreciate – this offence is less frequently charged than that of driving or being in charge whilst over the drink driving limit.
The evidence against you will normally concern your drinking pattern prior to driving (say from people in a pub’ who saw you leave and get into your car) and your later manner of driving. If, say, you fled the scene of a road traffic accident before the police arrived (which you should never ever do) then the testimony of people at the scene of the accident concerning your demeanour and whether or not they smelt alcohol on your breath will all be relied upon by the prosecution.
If proven against, or if you plead guilty, then you could be imprisoned for up to 6 months; will be disqualified for at least 12 months (36 months if you have committed a similar such offence within the previous 10 years) and may be fined up to £5000.
This allegation is frequently successfully defended. The evidence is rarely as clear as that of driving with excess alcohol, and there is usually much room for argument. In my experience, the chance of an acquittal is higher than for offence 2. below.
2. DRIVING OR BEING IN CHARGE OVER THE DRINK DRIVING LIMIT
If you fail the roadside breath test then you will be arrested and taken to the police station where, after booking in, you will be asked to provide 2 specimens of breath on the intoximeter or other such machines. The legal limit in breath is 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres, but the police charge if you blow 40 or over.
If the machine is unavailable, for whatever reason, then the police may demand an alternative sample of blood or urine.
If you plead guilty or are found guilty, then you will be banned for a minimum of 12 months (36 months if you have committed a similar such offence within the previous 10 years); be fined up to £5000 and/or may be imprisoned for up to 6 months.
This legislation cuts through centuries of English and Welsh law, in that it forces a suspect to provide evidence (i.e. a sample of breath, blood or urine) against himself/herself. However, because of this infringement of basic legal rights by Parliament, the higher courts rigorously guard against any abuse of the system. Thus if the police do not follow procedures correctly then prosecutions can be thrown out.
There have been a massive number of decided cases, concerning this offence, over the years and the police, in an attempt to make themselves “flameproof”, have produced a form which they should follow to the letter when carrying out the breath, blood or urine test, to attempt to prove their case. However, mistakes are made and these can lead to an acquittal. The important point to remember is that, unless you ask an experienced lawyer to look at the evidence, you might never discover that you had a defence to the allegation. The police and the CPS are unlikely to tell you because, due to the pressures they are under, they may well simply have not had the time to consider the point.