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Under Section 4 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act and Section 1 of the 1991 Road Traffic Act, it is an offence to use or be in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or public place whilst under the influence of drink or drugs.
Conviction will lead inevitably to a driving ban, a fine and potentially other punishments to include community service, curfew orders and in extreme cases, a prison sentence.
The law relating to drink driving is complicated and given the severity of any potential punishment, expert assistance from a qualified solicitor should always be obtained. Many road users are confused by alcohol levels, drink drive limits and what actually constitutes either driving or being in charge of a vehicle.
THE LEGAL Drink Driving LIMIT
DRINK DRIVING OFFENCES
OTHER MOTORING OFFENCES
Any person who is driving, attempting to drive, or in charge of a motor vehicle on the road, or in a public place (eg a pub car park or a garage forecourt), may be required by the police to provide a breath test, to ascertain whether they are over the prescribed limit of alcohol - 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath (or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood).
The request must be made by a police officer in uniform, but can only be made if one of the following situations apply :-
Can the police can just stop your car if you are driving along and insist on giving you a roadside breath test?
The answer is NO. They are entitled to randomly stop your car, but they can only insist on a breath test if they have reasonable cause to suspect you have committed a traffic offence, or have consumed alcohol (eg they can smell it on your breath), or they reasonably believe you have been involved in an accident (eg the description of your car matches that given by a witness).
If the lower of the two breath readings at the station is equal to or below 39 µg/100 ml breath, then you should be released either without charge or with a caution. If it is between 40 µg and 50 µg/100, then you MUST be offered the option of providing an alternative specimen of either blood or urine (if the police fail to offer you this option then you will have a defence to the charge). You should be asked which you would prefer, but it is up to the police to decide which one they offer you, unless, again, you have a medical condition which would preclude you from providing the necessary sample. The police cannot take a blood sample without your consent, but if this is the option offered and you refuse to consent then the police can rely on the breath sample they have taken.
If you are asked to provide urine they will ask you to provide two samples within an hour. If blood then this must be taken by a police surgeon, who will have to be called to the station and arrive within the hour. The police surgeon will take a sample of blood and there will always be a police officer present. Once this sample has been taken, it will be divided in two and you will be asked which sample you would like sent off for analysis and will also be asked if you would like the second sample to take for independent analysis. If you do not want this sample it simply gets disposed of, if you do take the opportunity to take one of the blood samples for independent analysis then you will be given a leaflet with a list of laboratories that you can contact to carry this out for you.
You have a right to have the second sample taken and you should always avail yourself of this right.
In theory, you should be allowed to leave. However, in some circumstances, a forensic scientist can be instructed to "back calculate" the level at the time of the incident. This is normally only used in serious incidents/accidents.
If you are going to be charged with drinking and driving you will have the charge read out to you and you will be cautioned about saying anything which may later be used in evidence in a court of law. You will then be asked to sign the charge sheet and a copy will be given to you. You will usually then be bailed to attend a court of law on a specified date - ie you will be free to go and must attend court on the date and time given. You will not usually be allowed to drive from the station (as you would most likely be committing another offence), but you are free to drive until the date of your hearing when any ban that may be imposed will come into immediate effect.
If there is more than one person in the vehicle and no one admits to driving, the Police can breathalyse any occupant who they have reasonable cause to believe to be the driver or in charge of the vehicle.
If you fail to identify the driver, and the Police cannot establish his identity, you can be prosecuted for being "in charge" of the vehicle.
You can ask the court to reduce the length of your driving ban after:
You need to apply in writing to the court that disqualified you, giving the date of offence, date of conviction and any information to justify your request. If successful, the court will notify DVLA of the decision. You can then apply to renew your driving licence. It may help to instruct a solicitor to help you prepare your case to put toward the judge.
If the court refuses your request, you’ll have to wait three months before you can ask the court again.
You may also be offered the chance to complete a drink driving rehabilitation course by the courts. Completing the course will reduce the length of you ban by 25%. You cannot demand to be allowed to complete the course, it is at the discretion of the courts whether they give you the option or not.
Introduced in 1991 was the ‘High Risk Offender’ (HRO) scheme. This is intended to
High Risk Offenders are drivers who:
A drink driving endorsement will stay on your license for a period of up to 11 years from the date of conviction. The exact time period it will remain on your driving license for will depend on the particular offence you are convicted of. See below:
However, endorsements usually only affect your motor car insurance premiums for a period of 5 years from the date of conviction. List of other motoring related endorsements and offences.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 enables some criminal convictions to become 'spent', or ignored, after a 'rehabilitation period'.
A rehabilitation period is a set length of time from the date of conviction. After this period, with certain exceptions, an ex-offender is not normally obliged to mention their conviction when applying for a job or obtaining insurance, or when involved in criminal or civil proceedings.
The length of the rehabilitation period depends on the sentence given - not the offence committed. For a custodial sentence. Custodial sentences of more than 2 1/2 years can never become spent.
Except for an absolute discharge, all of the periods above are halved if the person
The rehabilitation period for a driving ban is the length of the driving ban. However if another sentence is imposed such as a fine, community penalty order or imprisonment then the longer period of rehabilitation applies.
Will my drink driving conviction show up on a CRB check and do I have to disclose my conviction/s to employers?
It will depend upon the job you are applying for and whether or not your conviction is classed as 'spent' under The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Please click here for details on rehabilitation periods.
If your conviction IS NOT classed as 'spent'
If your drink driving conviction IS NOT classed as 'spent' and a potential employer asks you if you have any criminal convictions, you must disclose your conviction/s.
If your drink driving conviction IS classed as spent
If your drink driving conviction IS classed as 'spent' then you do not usually have to disclose your conviction to potential employers when applying for jobs.
Certain jobs are exempt from this rule and you will need to disclose both 'spent' and 'unspent' convictions. Jobs such as working in the close proximity and/or with children and vulnerable adults are exempt from this rule as are other jobs including:
What is a CRB check and will my conviction/s show up on a CRB check?
Employers can require, for certain positions, that successful applicants give their permission for a CRB check to be carried out. This involves the employer contacting the Criminal Records Bureau for more information on an applicants criminal history. There are three types of disclosure:
If you've got unspent convictions and don't disclose them when asked to do so, you can be dismissed by your employer, and possibly prosecuted.