Drink driving: caught out this Festive Season?

Drink Driving

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Many of us will be heading to Christmas parties, gatherings and festive get-togethers over the next couple of weeks – and it’s likely that for many of us, alcohol will be flowing freely. In fact, in December, alcohol consumption increases by over 40% – and with that, so does the number of police force conducting roadside breathalyser tests, and the number of people charged with drink driving offences.

What happens if you’re caught drink driving?

Being handed a drink driving charge can be stressful and highly upsetting, particularly if your driving license is essential to your career and everyday life. If you’ve been caught drink driving, then it’s likely you’ll be worried about what happens next. 

Here at DRN Solicitors, our dedicated team of road traffic solicitors have an excellent track record of successfully limiting penalties and avoiding custodial sentences. 

Should you find yourself arrested for drink driving – you need to speak to us straight away. Whilst you may be unable to do this until you have been tested and charged, the sooner you get in touch, the sooner we can help you navigate this process and ensure your rights are being protected. 


Did you know? In 2021 a record number of breathalysed drivers were found to be over the legal alcohol limit – a huge 17% of 224,100 drivers! The highest percentage since 2003. 


What offences could you be charged for?

If you’ve been caught drink driving, you could 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

Under what circumstances can the police stop and breathalyse you?

The police have the right to stop you if they suspect you of driving under the influence of alcohol. They are also able to stop you if they suspect that you are intending to drive under the influence of alcohol – for example, if you are walking up to your car whilst clearly drunk. 

In these circumstances, the police will ask for a specimen of your breath at the roadside. Refusing to provide a specimen when requested is an offence, and you could be charged for doing so. The officer must be trained to use the breathalyser device and have one with them in order for you to be subject to a roadside test. 

If an officer is unable to test you at the roadside, they are entitled to take you to a police station, where a doctor can carry out a blood or urine test to determine if you are under the influence. 


What will happen if you are taken to a police station?

If your roadside breathalyser test is positive, you will be taken to a police station. Here, the police will carry out two more tests, where the lowest alcohol level will be the one taken into account. If one of the results is within the legal limit, then you will be released. 

If your test here is positive, you will be charged. 

What happens if you’re charged for drink driving?

If you are charged for drink driving, your rights will be read to you, and a charge sheet will be created, which you will need to sign. You will then normally be released to appear at magistrates court at a later date – typically within a few weeks. 


Do they have a right to detain me?

In some circumstances, yes. If you are too drunk to provide a breath specimen, then you can legally be detained. Alternatively, if you’ve also been charged with a more severe offence – such as causing death by dangerous driving – then you will, of course,  be detained. 


What will happen to me?

Drink driving is a serious offence, and the penalties reflect this. You will be banned from driving for up to one year, face an unlimited fine, and could face up to six months imprisonment. The maximum prison sentence for careless driving under the influence of alcohol is 14 years. 

If you are determined to be a high-risk offender, you will not automatically receive your license back – and you may be asked to complete an extended driving test. 


What is a high-risk offender?

The courts will classify you as a high-risk offender if:

  • You were convicted of 2 drink driving offences within 10 years
  • You were driving with an alcohol reading of at least 87.5 microgrammes of alcohol per 100ml of blood, or 267.5mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine
  • You refused to give the police a sample of breath, blood or urine to test for alcohol
  • You refused to allow a sample of your blood to be tested for alcohol (for example: if it was taken when you were unconscious.


What should you do if you’ve been caught drink driving and need a solicitor?

If you find yourself arrested for drink driving – it is imperative you ring us straight away. Whilst you may be unable to do so until you’ve been tested and charged, the sooner you get in touch with us, the faster we can ensure your rights are being protected. 

The severity of the penalty you get granted is decided by the magistrates who hear your case – which is why it’s crucial that you prepare your case accordingly to work in your favour. We can help you present your case so that the magistrates understand the impact that a driving ban, fine and possible imprisonment would have on you and your family. 


So if you need a solicitor for drink driving charges, please, call our Road Traffic Team on 01282 433 231, and let’s get started building your case.