August 1, 2017
Drink and Drug Driving Offences
It is a criminal offence in the UK to drive a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs over the prescribed limit. Most of us know this. However, there are several driving offences in the UK that cover all of the circumstances of when a criminal offence is being committed.
Drink Drive - Excess Alcohol
It is an offence to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle, on a public road or a place to which the public have access, whilst in excess of the prescribed alcohol limit.
The alcohol limit is:
35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath.
80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100ml of blood.
107 milligrammes of alcohol in 100ml of urine.
The defences available for Drink Drive offences are as follows:
1. Showing that you were not driving the vehicle.
2. Denying that you were driving on a road or a public place.
3. That the alcohol was consumed after you had stopped driving (known as the 'hip flask defence').
4. Denying that you were over the limit and arguing that the police's evidence is unreliable.
If you are convicted of this offence, you face a mandatory driving disqualification for a minimum of 12 months. This increases depending on the amount over the legal limit and it is the Court's discretion as to how long they decide to disqualify for. You may also have to pay a large fine as well as Court Costs as well as possibly facing a term of imprisonment. If you are convicted of more than 1 drink driving offences in a 10 year period, you would face a minimum period of 3 years disqualification.
Drink Driving - Drunk in Charge
This offence differs to Excess Alcohol and individuals are usually charged with this when the police do not have enough evidence to prove the 'driving' element of the offence. An example would be sitting in your car with your keys whilst over the limit above.
If convicted of this offence, you face 10 penalty points or a discretionary ban from driving.
Drug Driving - Excess Drugs
Similar to alcohol, it is illegal to drive whilst in excess of the prescribed drug limit in blood or urine. The police are entitled to carry out roadside drug tests which could result in you being arrested if found to be over the limit. However, some legal medication will place you over the limit and you may have a defence to raise in this instance.
The defences available for Drug Driving offences are:
1. That the controlled drug had been prescribed for medicinal purposes.
2. That it had been taken in accordance with directions provided by the prescriber.
3. The possession of the drug was not unlawful.
If you are convicted of the offence, you face a mandatory disqualification from driving and possibly a term of imprisonment. The offence also carries the possibility of a fine as well as court costs.
If you think the facts of your Drink Driving offence are unfair, there are certain circumstances where Solicitors can apply to the Court asking to not impose the standard 12 month driving ban even if you are convicted or plead guilty.
These circumstances are called 'special reasons'. Special reasons are most often applied in Drink Driving cases where there may be a partial excuse for committing a Driving Offence. Examples could be the shortness of the distance driven, or when the defendant's drinks were spiked and he/she was unaware of this. This list is non-exhaustive and all such applications are specific to their facts.
Our solicitors are able to provide quality advice on all aspects of special reasons and if they apply to your case.
The term 'exceptional hardship' is not defined by legislation however, it is generally accepted that it means hardship which would not usually be faced by others. Exceptional Hardship can be put forward if you accumulate 12 penalty points and face disqualification as a result.
Whether or not the facts of the case amount to hardship is down to the discretion of the Magistrates. However, common examples of hardship can include:
Loss of employment / risk of business failure.
Loss of residence.
Disability and the need for a licence.
Inability to care for loved ones.
These articles are illustrative only as each case can turn on its own facts. They do not constitute Legal Advice. Should you require advice, please contact us directly.