It is January - the holiday season has passed, and, according to last year, almost nine million of us will have committed to Dry January following the overindulgence of December. However, if the joy of Christmas has been overshadowed because you were caught driving over the legal limit for alcohol , you need to contact an experienced Drink Driving Solicitor immediately. Drink driving is a grave violation of the law, and the consequences of conviction encompass fines, automatic disqualification, and in severe, repeated cases, potential imprisonment.
What are the regulations concerning drunk driving in England?
The Road Traffic Act 1988 stipulates that operating a "mechanically propelled vehicle" on any public road or accessible area while surpassing the prescribed alcohol limit is an offence. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, these limits are as follows:
35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.
80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine
Being in control of a motor vehicle on a road or public space above the stipulated limit is also deemed an offence. If charged with drunk driving, you will be brought before the Magistrates' Court, where the Prosecution must establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that you exceeded the prescribed limit while operating or controlling a vehicle on a public road.
Are there any defences to drink driving?
There are several defences that a proficient Drink Driving Solicitor can assert based on the specific circumstances of your case, including:
Procedural error – Scrutinising the adherence of police officers to prescribed procedures for collecting breath, blood, or urine samples, including potential lapses such as failure to provide a statutory warning or inaccuracies in paperwork completion.
Post-offence consumption or 'hip-flask defence' – Arguing that the consumption of alcohol occurred after driving, potentially influencing the blood alcohol level, especially in scenarios where a person is involved in an accident and offered alcohol while awaiting police arrival.
Necessity or duress of circumstances – Limited defences applicable in situations where severe threats of violence coerce an individual to drive despite being over the legal limit.
Private land – Establishing that the driving occurred on private property, exempting the accused from a drunk driving conviction applicable only to operating or being in control of a vehicle on public land.
Drink spiking – Asserting that the accused's drink was spiked, requiring proof that the individual was below the legal limit before consumption, was unaware of the spiking, and had no reason to believe they exceeded the drink driving limit.
An unreliable breathalyser or blood test – Ensuring that the equipment used by law enforcement for breath or blood samples was Home Office-approved and that quality control procedures were followed by third-party entities examining the blood sample.
What are the penalties for drunk driving convictions?
Being convicted of driving or attempting to drive with excessive alcohol in your breath, blood, or urine may lead to the Court imposing a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine and/or a six-month prison sentence. However, first-time offenders' likelihood of receiving such a severe penalty is significantly reduced, especially if professional legal advice and representation are sought.
In the event of a guilty verdict, the Court is obligated to disqualify you from driving for a minimum of 12 months. The mandatory license suspension increases to at least three years for a second offence within a decade.
The Magistrate/s, in determining the appropriate sentence, will consult the Sentencing Guidelines . These guidelines establish a baseline irrespective of your plea or prior convictions, with the severity of the penalty linked to the alcohol levels detected in your breath, blood, or urine. For instance, registering 90-119 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath sets the starting point for sentencing at a medium-level community order and a driving disqualification lasting 23-28 months.
What can a Drink Driving Solicitor do to minimise the penalty?
Under the Sentencing Guidelines, the Magistrate/s will examine the following aggravating and mitigating factors and may increase or decrease the sentence starting point.
Previous drink driving convictions.
Passengers were in the vehicle.
The standard of your driving was unacceptable.
You caused an accident.
There was lots of traffic and people in the area.
No previous convictions or relevant/recent convictions.
You had to drive because of an emergency.
Someone spiked your drink.
You did not drive far.
You demonstrate remorse and/or good character.
You have a serious medical condition, mental disorder, or learning disability.
Dependent relatives depend on you for care.
The Magistrate/s can consider any other relevant factors; therefore, it is essential to remember that the above list is not exhaustive. Your Drink Driving Solicitor will swiftly identify any aggravating and/or mitigating factors and present robust arguments to the Court to reduce the final sentence handed down.
Facing a drink driving charge does not necessitate navigating the situation alone. Instructing a Drink Driving Solicitor increases your chances of charges being dropped before your court date or gaining an acquittal.
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