Caught drink driving? What to do and what to expect

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The police have the right to stop you if they suspect you of driving under the influence of alcohol. They can also stop you should they suspect that you plan to drive under the influence – walking up to your car drunk for example.

When this happens, the police officer will first ask you for a specimen of breath at the roadside. It is unlawful for you to refuse to provide a specimen and you can be charged for doing so. The officer however, must be trained to use the breathalyser device and of course have one with them for you to be subject to a roadside test.

Should it not be possible for you to be tested at the roadside, the officer can take you to the police station where a doctor can carry out a blood or urine test to determine if you are under the influence. You need to give your consent for them to carry out a blood test.

You can be charged with three offences:

  • Being in charge of a vehicle under the influence – sitting in the driver’s seat with the ignition on, for example
  • Driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol
  • Failing to give a specimen when requested


If you are charged you will be taken to the police station

Here the police will carry out two more tests, with the lowest alcohol level being taken into account. If one of the results are within the legal limit you will be released. If your test is positive you will be charged.

If you are charged you will be read your rights and a charge sheet will be created which you will need to sign. You will normally then be released to appear at magistrate’s court at a later date, usually within a few weeks.

In some circumstances though, the officer has the right to detain you at the police station. If you are too drunk to provide a specimen, or if you have been charged with an additional offence, such as causing death by careless driving under the influence. Which of course is much more severe.


The penalties

Drink-driving is a serious offence and the penalties reflect this. You will be banned from driving for at least a year, face an unlimited fine, and up to six months imprisonment. You can get up to 14 years imprisonment if you have caused death by careless driving under the influence.

If you are classed as a high-risk offender, you won’t automatically get your licence back either. And you may be asked to complete an extended driving test.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve had one too many drinks or you are completely intoxicated. In the eyes of the law, a drink-driver is a drink-driver. Hence, we have released numerous blogs pushing the importance of not getting behind the wheel at all after a drink, or the morning after a heavy night. Depending on your age, gender, food intake, and general DNA, alcohol can take varying amounts of time to clear your system.


What to do

If you do find yourself arrested, you need to talk to us straight away. You might not be able to do so until you have been tested and charged, but call us as soon as possible. This way we can make sure that your rights are protected throughout, and we can help you navigate the process.

The penalty that you get is decided by the magistrates who hear your case, so it is important that you prepare your case accordingly. We can help you present your case so that the magistrates understand the impact the ban, fine, and possible imprisonment would have on your family.

Call our Road Traffic Team on 01282 433 241, and we will get to work straight away.