Drink Driving Penalties - Magistrates Sentencing Guidelines

The penalties for drink driving and related offences in the UK are severe. One of the most important factors that determine the severity of the sentence that magistrates will impose for drink driving offences is the level of alcohol in an offenders system at the time of the offence. Before magistrates decide on the appropriate sentence to impose, they will take into account any relevant previous convictions as well as any aggravating and/or mitigating factors surrounding each individual case. They will also take into account the level of harm that an offender caused or could have caused while committing the offence.


Drink Driving Offences & Penalties

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Click the links below to take you to the relevant section for that particular offence and view the sentencing guidelines magistrates use in determining the penalty to impose for that particular driving offence.

Driving / Attempting to Drive Offences

Driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol
DVLA Endorsement Code: DR10

Drive or attempt to drive a vehicle while unfit through drink or drugs
DVLA Endorsement Code: DR20, DR80

In Charge Offences

In charge of a vehicle while unfit through drink or drugs
DVLA Endorsement Code: DR50, DR90

In charge of vehicle with excess alcohol
DVLA Endorsement Code: DR40

Fail / Refuse to Provide Specimen Offences

Fail to provide specimen for analysis while driving or attempting to drive a vehicle
DVLA Endorsement Code: DR30

Fail to provide specimen for analysis while in charge of a vehicle
DVLA Endorsement Code: DR60

Fail to co-operate with preliminary roadside breath test
DVLA Endorsement Code: DR70


Other Driving Offences & Penalties

Careless driving (driving without due care and attention)
DVLA Endorsement Code: CD10, CD20, CD30

Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving
DVLA Endorsement Code: CD80

Causing death by driving: unlicensed, uninsured or disqualified
DVLA Endorsement Code: CD90

Dangerous driving
DVLA Endorsement Code: DD40

Driving whilst disqualified
DVLA Endorsement Code: BA10

Fail to stop/report an accident
DVLA Endorsement Code: AC10, AC20

Driving with no insurance
DVLA Endorsement Code: IN10


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The following guidelines are issued by the Sentencing Guidelines Council and cover offences for which sentences are frequently imposed in a magistrates court when dealing with adult offenders. They apply to allocation (mode of trial) decisions and to sentences imposed on or after 4 August 2008 and replace the guidelines effective from 1 January 2004.

These are the guidelines for which magistrates must take into account and refer too when sentencing offenders.

Offences can either be tried summarily which means they can only be heard in the magistrates court or they can be either way offences which means magistrates may find that their sentencing powers are insufficient and indict the case to crown court.

The majority of drink driving related offences are summary only offences which can only be tried in a magistrates court. Only the most serious offences such as where there is evidence of dangerous driving or there is a death involved are indicted to crown court.

A sentence needs to:

  • Protect the public
  • Punish the offender fairly and appropriately
  • Encourage the offender to make amends for their crime/s
  • Contribute to crime reduction by stopping re-offending

EXCESS ALCOHOL
(drive/attempt to drive)
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.5(1)(a) [1]

Triable: Summarily
Maximum: Level 5 Fine and/or 6 months

  • Must endorse and disqualify for at least 12 months
  • Must disqualify for at least 2 years if offender has had two or more disqualifications for periods of 56 days or more in preceding 3 years
  • Must disqualify for at least 3 years if offender has been convicted of a relevant driving offence in preceding 10 years

If there is a delay in sentencing after conviction, consider interim disqualification

Note: the final column below provides guidance regarding the length of disqualification that may be appropriate in cases to which the 3 year minimum applies. The period to be imposed in any individual case will depend on an assessment of all the relevant circumstances, including the length of time since the earlier ban was imposed and the gravity of the current offence.

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Level of alcohol

Starting Point

Range

Disqualification

Disqual. 2nd offence in 10 years

Breath(ug)

Blood (ml)

Urine (ml)

       

36 - 59

81 - 137

108 -183

Band C Fine

Band C Fine

12 - 16 months

36 - 40 months

60 - 89

138 - 206

184 - 274

Band C Fine

Band C Fine

17 - 22 months

36 - 46 months

90 - 119

207 - 275

275 - 366

Medium level community order

Low level community order to high level community order

23 - 28 months

36 - 52 months

120 - 150 and above

276 - 345 and above

367 - 459 and above

12 weeks custody

High level community order to 26 weeks custody

29 - 36 months

36 - 60 months

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those listed above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. LGV, HGV, PSV etc.
  2. Poor road or weather conditions
  3. Carrying passengers
  4. Driving for hire or reward
  5. Evidence of unacceptable standard of driving

Factors indicating greater degree of harm

  1. Involved in accident
  2. Location e.g. near school
  3. High level of traffic or pedestrians in the vicinity

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Genuine emergency established *
  2. Spiked drinks *
  3. Carrying passengers
  4. Very short distance driven *

* even where not amounting to special reasons

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider offering drink/drive rehabilitation course
Consider ancillary orders, including forfeiture or suspension of personal liquor licence

Decide sentence
Give reasons

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UNFIT THROUGH DRINK OR DRUGS
(drive/attempt to drive)
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.4(1) [1]

Triable: Summarily
Maximum: Level 5 Fine and/or 6 months

  • Must endorse and disqualify for at least 12 months
  • Must disqualify for at least 2 years if offender has had two or more disqualifications for periods of 56 days or more in preceding 3 years
  • Must disqualify for at least 3 years if offender has been convicted of a relevant driving offence in preceding 10 years

If there is a delay in sentencing after conviction, consider interim disqualification

Note: the final column below provides guidance regarding the length of disqualification that may be appropriate in cases to which the 3 year minimum applies. The period to be imposed in any individual case will depend on an assessment of all the relevant circumstances, including the length of time since the earlier ban was imposed and the gravity of the current offence.

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting Point

Range

Disqualification

Disqual. 2nd offence in 10 years

Evidence of moderate level of impairment and no aggravating factors

Band C Fine

Band C Fine

12 - 16 months

36 - 40 months

Evidence of moderate level of impairment an presence of one or more aggravating factors listed below

Band C Fine

Band C Fine

17 - 22 months

36 - 46 months

Evidence of high level of impairment and no aggravating factors

Medium level community order

Low level community order to high level community order

23 - 28 months

36 - 52 months

Evidence of high level of impairment and presence of one or more aggravating factors listed below

12 weeks custody

High level community order to 26 weeks custody

29 - 36 months

36 - 60 months

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those listed above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. LGV, HGV, PSV etc.
  2. Poor road or weather conditions
  3. Carrying passengers
  4. Driving for hire or reward
  5. Evidence of unacceptable standard of driving

Factors indicating greater degree of harm

  1. Involved in accident
  2. Location e.g. near school
  3. High level of traffic or pedestrians in the vicinity

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Genuine emergency established *
  2. Spiked drinks *
  3. Carrying passengers
  4. Very short distance driven *

* even where not amounting to special reasons

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider offering drink/drive rehabilitation course
Consider ancillary orders

Decide sentence
Give reasons

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UNFIT THROUGH DRINK OR DRUGS
(in charge)
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.4(2) [1]

Triable: Summarily
Maximum: Level 4 Fine and/or 3 months

Must endorse and may disqualify. If no disqualification, impose 10 points

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting Point

Range

Evidence of moderate level of impairment and no aggravating factors

Band B Fine

Band B Fine

10 points

Evidence of moderate level of impairment and presence of one or more aggravating factors listed below

Band B Fine

Band B Fine

10 points or consider disqualification

Evidence of high level of impairment and no aggravating factors

Band C Fine

Band C Fine to medium level community order

10 points or consider disqualification

Evidence of high level of impairment and presence of one or more aggravating factors listed below

High level community order

Medium level community order to 12 weeks custody

Consider disqualification OR 10 points

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those within examples above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. LGV, HGV, PSV etc.
  2. High likelihood of driving
  3. Driving for hire or reward

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Low likelihood of driving

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider ancillary orders

Decide sentence
Give reasons

Back to list of offences

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EXCESS ALCOHOL
(in charge)
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.5(1)(b) [1]

Triable: Summarily
Maximum: Level 4 Fine and/or 3 months

Must endorse and may disqualify. If no disqualification, impose 10 points

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Level of alcohol

Starting Point

Range

Breath(ug)

Blood (ml)

Urine (ml)

   

36 - 59

81 - 137

108 -183

Band B Fine

Band B Fine

10 points

60 - 89

138 - 206

184 - 274

Band B Fine

Band B Fine

10 points OR consider disqualification

90 - 119

207 - 275

275 - 366

Band C Fine

Band C Fine to medium level community order

Consider disqualification up to 6 months OR 10 points

120 - 150 and above

276 - 345 and above

367 - 459 and above

Medium level community order

Low level community order to 6 weeks custody

Disqualify 6-12 months

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those with examples above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. LGV, HGV, PSV etc.
  2. Ability to driver seriously impaired
  3. High likelihood of driving
  4. Driving for hire or reward

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Low likelihood of driving

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider ancillary orders, including forfeiture or suspension of personal liquor licence

Decide sentence
Give reasons

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FAIL TO PROVIDE SPECIMEN FOR ANALYSIS
(drive/attempt to drive)
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.7(6) [1]

Triable: Summarily
Maximum: Level 5 Fine and/or 6 months

  • Must endorse and disqualify for at least 12 months
  • Must disqualify for at least 2 years if offender has had two or more disqualifications for periods of 56 days or more in preceding 3 years
  • Must disqualify for at least 3 years if offender has been convicted of a relevant offence in preceding 10 years

If there is a delay in sentencing after conviction, consider interim disqualification

Note: the final column below provides guidance regarding the length of disqualification that may be appropriate in cases to which the 3 year minimum applies. The period to be imposed in any individual case will depend on an assessment of all the relevant circumstances, including the length of time since the earlier ban was imposed and the gravity of the current offence.

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting point

Range

Disqualification

Disqual. 2nd offence in 10 years

Defendant refused test when had honestly held but unreasonable excuse

Band C Fine

Band C Fine

12 - 16 months

36 - 40 months

Deliberate refusal or deliberate failure

Low level community order

Band C Fine to high level community order

17 - 28 months

36 - 52 months

Deliberate refusal or deliberate failure where evidence of serious impairment

12 weeks custody

High level community order to 26 weeks custody

29 - 36 months

36 - 60 months

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those with examples above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. Evidence of unacceptable standard of driving
  2. LGV, HGV, PSV etc.
  3. Obvious state of intoxication
  4. Driving for hire or reward

Factors indicating greater degree of harm

  1. Involved in accident

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Genuine but unsuccessful attempt to provide specimen

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider offering drink/drive rehabilitation course; consider ancillary orders

Decide sentence
Give reasons

Back to list of offences

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FAIL TO PROVIDE SPECIMEN FOR ANALYSIS
(in charge)
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.7(6) [1]

Triable: Summarily
Maximum: Level 4 Fine and/or 3 months

Must endorse and may disqualify. If no disqualification, impose 10 points

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting point

Range

Defendant refused test when had honestly held but unreasonable excuse

Band B Fine

Band B Fine

10 points

Deliberate refusal or deliberate failure

Band C Fine

Band C Fine to medium level community order

Consider disqualification OR 10 points

Deliberate refusal or deliberate failure where evidence of serious impairment

Medium level community order

Low level community order to 6 weeks custody

Disqualify 6 - 12 months

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those with examples above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. Obvious state of intoxication
  2. LGV, HGV, PSV etc.
  3. High likelihood of driving
  4. Driving for hire or reward

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Genuine but unsuccessful attempt to provide specimen
  2. Low likelihood of driving

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider ancillary orders

Decide sentence
Give reasons

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FAIL TO CO-OPERATE WITH PRELIMINARY (ROADSIDE) BREATH TEST
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.6(6) [1]

Triable: Summarily
Maximum: Level 3 Fine and 4 penalty points

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting point

Range

Failing to co-operate with preliminary roadside breath test

Band B Fine

Level 3 Fine

4 points

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors

It is rare that a person will be convicted of this offence alone. The majority of people required to take a roadside breath test will comply. Failure to comply with the requirement to take a roadside breath test will lead to arrest and a further requirement to provide an evidential specimen for analysis at the police station.

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider ancillary orders

Decide sentence
Give reasons

Back to list of offences

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CARELESS DRIVING
(driving without due care and attention)
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.3 [1]

Triable: Summarily
Maximum: Level 5 Fine

Must endorse and may disqualify. If no disqualification, impose 3 - 9 points

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting point

Range

Momentary lapse of concentration or misjudgement at low speed

Band A Fine

Band A Fine

3 - 4 points

Loss of control due to speed, mishandling or insufficient attention to road conditions, or carelessly turning right across oncoming traffic

Band B Fine

Band B Fine

5 - 6 points

Overtaking manoeuvre at speed resulting in collision of vehicles, or driving bordering on the dangerous

Band C Fine

Band C Fine

Consider disqualification OR
7 - 9 points

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those with examples above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. Excessive speed
  2. Carrying out other tasks while driving
  3. Carrying passengers or heavy load
  4. Tiredness

Factors indicating a greater degree of harm

  1. Injury to others
  2. Damage to other vehicles or property
  3. High level of traffic or pedestrians in the vicinity
  4. Location e.g. near school where children are likely to be present

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Minor risk
  2. Inexperience of driver
  3. Sudden change in road or weather conditions

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider disqualification until appropriate driving test passed
Consider ancillary orders, including compensation

Decide sentence
Give reasons

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CAUSING DEATH BY CARELESS OR INCONSIDERATE DRIVING
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.2B [1]

Triable: Either way
Maximum when tried summarily: Level 5 Fine and/or 6 months
Maximum when tried on indictment: 5 years

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting point

Range

Careless or inconsiderate driving arising from momentary inattention with no aggravating factors

Medium level community order

Low level community order to high level community order

Other cases of careless or inconsiderate driving

Crown Court

High level community order to Crown Court

Careless or inconsiderate driving falling not far short of dangerous driving

Crown Court

Crown Court

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those with examples above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. Other offences committed at the same time, such as driving other than in accordance with the terms of a valid licence; driving while disqualified; driving without insurance; taking a vehicle without consent; driving a stolen vehicle
  2. Previous convictions for motoring offences, particularly offences involving bad driving
  3. Irresponsible behaviour, such as failing to stop or falsely claiming that one of the victims was responsible for the collision

Factors indicating a greater degree of harm

  1. More than one person was killed as a result of the offence
  2. Serious injury to more than one persons in addition to the death(s)

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Offender seriously injured in the collision
  2. The victim was a close friend or relative
  3. The actions of the victim or a third party contributed to the commission of the offence
  4. The offenders lack of driving experience contributed significantly to the likelihood of a collision occurring and/or death resulting
  5. The driving was in response to a proven and genuine emergency falling short of a defence

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider ancillary orders, including disqualification and deprivation of property

Decide sentence
Give reasons

Back to list of offences

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CAUSING DEATH BY DRIVING: Unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.3ZB [1]

Triable: Either way
Maximum when tried summarily: Level 5 Fine and/or 6 months
Maximum when tried on indictment: 2 years

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting point

Range

The offender was unlicensed or uninsured - no aggravating factors

Medium level community order

Low level community order to high level community order

The offender was unlicensed or uninsured plus at least 1 aggravating factor from the list below

26 weeks custody

High level community order to Crown Court

The offender was disqualified from driving
OR
The offender was unlicensed or uninsured plus 2 or more aggravating factors from the list below

Crown Court

Crown Court

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those with examples above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. Previous convictions for motoring offences, whether involving bad driving or involving an offence of the same kind that forms part of the present conviction (i.e. unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured driving)
  2. Irresponsible behaviour such as failing to stop or falsely claiming that someone else was driving

Factors indicating a greater degree of harm

  1. More than one person was killed as a result of the offence
  2. Serious injury to more than one persons in addition to the death(s)

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. The decision to drive was brought about by a proven and genuine emergency falling short of a defence
  2. The offender genuinely believed that he or she was insured or licensed to drive
  3. The actions of the victim or a third party contributed to the commission of the offence
  4. The offender was seriously injured as a result of the collision
  5. The victim was a close friend or relative

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider ancillary orders, including disqualification and deprivation of property

Decide sentence
Give reasons

Back to list of offences

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DANGEROUS DRIVING
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.2 [1]

Triable: Either way
Maximum when tried summarily: Level 5 Fine and/or 6 months
Maximum when tried on indictment: 2 years

  • Must endorse and disqualify for at least 12 months. Must order extended re-test
  • Must disqualify for at least 2 years if offender has had two or more disqualifications for periods of 56 days or more in preceding 3 years

If there is a delay in sentencing after conviction, consider interim disqualification

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting point

Range

Single incident where little or no damage or risk of personal injury

Medium level community order

Low level community order to high level community order

Disqualify 12 - 15 months

Incident(s) involving excessive speed or showing off, especially on busy roads or in built up area; OR

Single incident where little or no damage or risk of personal injury but offender was disqualified driver

12 weeks custody

High level community order to 26 weeks custody

Disqualify 15 - 24 months

Prolonged bad driving involving deliberate disregard for safety of others; OR

Incident(s) involving excessive speed or showing off, especially on busy roads or in built-up area, by disqualified driver; OR

Driving as described in box above while being pursued by police

Crown Court

Crown Court

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those with examples above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. Disregarding warnings of others
  2. Evidence of alcohol or drugs
  3. Carrying out other tasks while driving
  4. Carrying passengers or heavy load
  5. Tiredness
  6. Aggressive driving, such as driving much too close to vehicle in front, racing inappropriate attempts to overtake, or cutting in after overtaking
  7. Driving when knowingly suffering from a medical condition which significantly impairs the offender's driving skills
  8. Driving a poorly maintained or dangerously loaded vehicle, especially where motivated by commercial concerns

Factors indicating a greater degree of harm

  1. Injury to others
  2. Damage to other vehicles or property

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Genuine emergency
  2. Speed not excessive
  3. Offence due to inexperience rather than irresponsibility of driver

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider ancillary orders, including disqualification and deprivation of property

Decide sentence
Give reasons

Back to list of offences

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DRIVE WHILST DISQUALIFIED
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.103 [1]

Triable: Only summarily
Maximum: Level 5 Fine and/or 6 months

Must endorse and may disqualify. If no disqualification, impose 6 points

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting point

Range

Full period expired but retest not taken

Low level community order

Band C Fine to medium level community order

6 points or disqualify for 3 - 6 months

Lengthy period of ban already served

High level community order

Medium level community order to 12 weeks custody

Lengthen disqualification for 6 - 12 months beyond expiry of current ban

Recently imposed ban

12 weeks custody

High level community order to 26 weeks custody

Lengthen disqualification for 12 - 18 months beyond expiry of current ban

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those with examples above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. Never passed test
  2. Planned long-term evasion
  3. Vehicle obtained during ban
  4. Driving for remuneration

Factors indicating a greater degree of harm

  1. Distance driven
  2. Evidence of associated bad driving
  3. Offender caused accident

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Defendant not present when disqualification imposed and genuine reason why unaware of ban
  2. Genuine emergency established

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider ancillary orders, including deprivation of property

Decide sentence
Give reasons

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FAIL TO STOP/REPORT ROAD ACCIDENT
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.170(4) [1]

Triable: Only summarily
Maximum: Level 5 Fine and/or 6 months

Must endorse and may disqualify. If no disqualification, impose 5 - 10 points

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting point

Range

Minor damage/injury or stopped at scene but failed to exchange particulars or report

Band B Fine

Band B Fine

5 - 6 points

Moderate damage/injury or failed to stop and failed to report

Band C Fine

Band C Fine

7 - 8 points
Consider disqualification

Serious damage/injury and/or evidence of bad driving

High level community order

Band C Fine to 26 weeks custody

Disqualify 6 - 12 months
OR 9 - 10 points

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those with examples above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. Evidence of drink or drugs/evasion of test
  2. Knowledge/suspicion that personal injury caused (where not an element of offence)
  3. Leaving injured party at scene
  4. Giving false details

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Believed identity known
  2. Genuine fear of retribution
  3. Subsequently reported

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider ancillary orders, including compensation

Decide sentence
Give reasons

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NO INSURANCE
Road Traffic Act 1988, s.143 [1] [1]

Triable: Only summarily
Maximum: Level 5 Fine

Must endorse and may disqualify. If no disqualification, impose 6 - 8 points - see note

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity

Starting point

Range

Using a motor vehicle on a road or other public place without insurance

Band C Fine

Band C Fine

6 points - 12 months disqualification - see note

Note
Consider range from 7 points - 2 months disqualification where vehicle was being driven and no evidence that the offender has held insurance

Consider disqualification of 6 - 12 months if evidence of sustained uninsured use and/or involvement in accident.

Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)
B. Consider the effect of aggravating and mitigating factors
(other than those with examples above)

The aggravating and mitigating factors below may be particularly relevant but are not exhaustive

Factors indicating higher culpability

  1. Never passed test
  2. Gave false details
  3. Driving LGV, HGV, PSV etc.
  4. Driving for hire or reward
  5. Evidence of sustained uninsured use

Factors indicating greater degree of harm

  1. Involved in accident
  2. Accident resulting in injury

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Responsibility of providing insurance rests with another
  2. Genuine misunderstanding
  3. Recent failure to renew or failure to transfer vehicle details where insurance was in existence
  4. Vehicle not being driven

Magistrates Must:

Form a preliminary view of the appropriate sentence, then consider offender mitigation

Consider a reduction for guilty plea
(ranging from a recommended one third off any sentence imposed) SEE NOTE

Consider ancillary orders

Decide sentence
Give reasons

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For more information on sentencing guidelines, fine bands, sentencing for multiple offences and ancillary orders please visit SGC - Sentencing Guidelines Council, Magistrates Court Sentencing Guidelines [online]. Available from http://www.sentencing-guidelines.gov.uk. © Crown Copyright 2014.

NOTE: Reduction in sentence for early guilty plea
Defendants who plead guilty can benefit from a reduction in the sentence they receive based on the stage of proceedings at which their willingness to admit guilt was indicated. The reduction will be gauged on a sliding scale as follows:

1) A guilty plea at the first reasonable opportunity should result in at least a recommended one third off any sentence imposed
2) A guilty plea after a trial date has been set should result in at least a recommended one quarter off any sentence imposed
3) A guilty plea 'at the door of the court' or after the trail has begun should result in at least a recommended one tenth off any sentence imposed

The reduction awarded for an early guilty plea applies to the punitive elements of the sentence only, it has no impact on ancillary orders including the length of any disqualification to be imposed.


Frequently asked questions on drink driving & motoring offence penalties

I have been charged with drink driving and I am now on bail, what does this mean exactly?

What should I do in preparation for my drink driving court case?

What will happen on the day of my drink driving court case and what should I do?

What is a pre-sentence report?

What sentences are available for magistrates to impose for drinking driving offences?

What is a community order?

What is a compulsory unpaid work requirement?

What is a curfew requirement?

What is a supervision requirement?

What is an alcohol treatment requirement?

Can I appeal against my sentence or conviction?

How long does a drink driving endorsement stay on my driving licence?

How long does a drink driving conviction stay on my record?

Will my drink driving conviction show up on a DBS check (previously known as a CRB check) and do I have to disclose my conviction(s) to potential employers?

How can I obtain details of my criminal record?


I have been charged with drink driving and I am now on bail, what does this mean exactly?

Bail can be granted by either a court of law or the police. Where bail is granted, a person is released from custody until the next date when they have been instructed to attend court or the police station. Anybody released on bail will be given a bail sheet containing this information. It is an offence not to attend on the date instructed and any person who does not attend on the given date will be in breach of bail. Breach of bail is a criminal offence and people who breach bail may be prosecuted for this offence alongside the original offence(s). An arrest warrant is usually issued for anyone who breaches bail and doesn't attend the court or the police station on the date instructed.

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What should I do in preparation for my drink driving court case?

You should:

  1. Consult with a solicitor as soon as possible. You will then be able to instruct the solicitor to act on your behalf during your drink driving court case or at the very least have the facts of your case and all evidence against you examined. You may be able to get a legal aid solicitor, if not you will have to instruct a solicitor on a private fee paying basis. You could also represent yourself at court or use the services of a duty solicitor on the day of your court case (free of charge), however the time a duty solicitor can spend on your case will be very limited and will depend on their workload.
  2. You should decide if you are going to plead guilty or not guilty, a solicitor can also advise you on this matter. If you intend to plead guilty then obtaining character references off members of the community (friends, colleagues and family) is always a good idea. They should refer to your character, work ethic, community involvement and achievements. They should be addressed to 'The Presiding Magistrate' and should note that the referee is aware of the specific offence with which you are charged. Composing a letter to the judge from yourself may not be a bad idea either.
  3. You should find out which court you have to appear at and how to get there. Courts do not take kindly to people who turn up late.

See our Guide to appearing at Magistrates Court for Drink Driving Offences

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What will happen on the day of my drink driving court case and what should I do?

You should:

  1. Arrive on time. Usually this is before 9.45am, however your solicitor may have arranged to meet and consult with you earlier than this. DO NOT ARRIVE LATE, it shows disrespect to the court.
  2. Show respect to the court and presiding magistrates by dressing smartly and being polite and courteous towards them. It also helps if you are genuinely remorseful as this will show.
  3. Bring your driving licence with you as the chances are you will be getting a driving ban and your driving licence will be taken from you.

On your first appearance in court you will normally be asked to enter your plea of 'guilty' or 'not guilty'. If you plead 'not guilty' then the court case will be adjourned until a future date where you will stand trial.

If you plead 'guilty' or are found guilty after a trial then you may:

  • Receive your sentence immediately; or
  • Be remanded in custody and summoned to return to the courts for sentencing at a later date; or
  • Be released on bail to return to the courts for sentencing at a later date.

Either way you will have to surrender your driving licence to the courts (if you have not already done so) and will more than likely be subject to an interim driving ban which means you are effectively banned from driving as from that date and any driving ban you may receive at a later date will run from that date.

When magistrates adjourn sentencing to a later date it is usually because they have requested a pre-sentence report to be carried out, they will usually tell you what kind of sentence they are considering imposing.

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What is a pre-sentence report?

When deciding what sentence to impose, magistrates have to take into account the facts of the case and the circumstances of the offender. A pre-sentence report is carried out by a probation officer and is an impartial report assessing the offenders background, reasons for offending and risk to the public. It also assesses the offenders suitability for various sentencing options the court may be considering imposing.

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What sentences are available for magistrates to impose for drinking driving offences?

Magistrates can impose the following sentences for drinking and driving:

Imprisonment is usually used for more serious offences and repeat offenders. The seriousness of the offence depends on numerous factors including but not limited to: the level of alcohol in a defendants body at the time off the offence, whether or not any accident occurred, whether or not any damage was caused to property and/or anybody was injured, whether or not the offender has previous convictions.

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What is a community penalty order?

A community penalty order is an alternative to a custodial prison sentence. It can combine punishment with rehabilitation. There are a range of community requirements available and requirements are often combined to make a bespoke community penalty order which is relevant to an individual offender. The range of orders available include:

Compulsory unpaid work requirement (aka Community Service)

The compulsory unpaid work requirement requires offenders to carry out unpaid work (between 40 and 300 hours) on projects that benefit the community and under close supervision. Offenders can be given individual placements such as working in a charity shop or a community care home. They can also be given group placements where a group will be supervised by an unpaid work supervisor. Group placements can involve tidying up local parks and beauty spots, painting and decorating community centres, cutting grass and various other tasks.

Unpaid work must be completed within 12 months of the sentence being imposed and will take place at least once a week for at least six and a half hours.

Curfew Requirement (Electronic Tagging)

The curfew requirement is a punishment and is similar to house arrest. An offender is instructed to stay indoors (usually at their home) between certain hours of the day i.e. 7pm until 7am. An electronic tag is attached to the offenders ankle or wrist and monitoring equipment is installed in the offenders home which alerts a monitoring service if the offender is absent during curfew hours.

Supervision Requirement

The supervision requirement requires the offender to attend appointments with an offender manager (usually a probation officer) at their local probation office. The length of supervision and frequency of contact varies. The offender manager will work with the offender to help ensure the risk of future offending is kept to a minimum. An offender manager may delegate supervision to another person who can provide the offender with specialised help, support and/or advice.

Alcohol treatment requirement

The alcohol treatment requirement provides access to tailored alcohol treatment programs that are aimed to reduce alcohol dependency. The offender must express a willingness to comply with the requirement and work at reducing their alcohol addiction.

Failure to comply with any community order requirements that are imposed may result in an offender appearing at court again for breaching their community order. The original sentence will then be reviewed and further penalties could be imposed which could include imprisonment.

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Can I appeal against my sentence or conviction?

Yes. You should lodge an appeal within 21 days. If the conviction is appealed against then there will be a re-trial at the crown court in front of a judge and two magistrates. If only the sentence is in dispute then it will be up to a crown court judge to consider your appeal. The judge may decide to increase the sentence, reduce it or leave it as it is.

Your solicitor can advise you on how to appeal your sentence or conviction.

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How long does a drink driving endorsement stay on my driving licence?

A drink driving endorsement will stay on your licence for a period of up to 11 years from the date of conviction. The exact time period an endorsement will remain on your driving licence for will depend on the particular drink driving related offence you are convicted of. See below:

Drink Driving Related Endorsements
Offence On driving licence for
DR10 - Drive or attempt to drive with excess alcohol 11 years
(from date of conviction)
DR40 - In charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol 4 years
(from date of offence)
DR20, DR80 - Drive or attempt to drive while unfit through drink or drugs 11 years
(from date of conviction)
DR50, DR90 - In charge of a vehicle while unfit through drink or drugs 4 years
(from date of offence)
DR30 - Failing to provide a specimen of analysis while driving or attempting to drive a vehicle 11 years
(from date of conviction)
DR60 - Failing to provide a specimen for analysis while in charge of a vehicle 4 years
(from date of offence)
DR70 - Failing to co-operate with a preliminary roadside breath test 4 years
(from date of offence)

Driving licence endorsements usually only affect your motor car insurance premiums for a period of 5 years from the date of conviction.

Full list of driving licence conviction codes

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How long does a drink driving conviction stay on my record?

People may be asked about criminal convictions when applying for a job, obtaining insurance, applying for certain licences and in any criminal or civil legal proceedings.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 [2] (ROA) allows certain criminal convictions to become non-disclosable after a set period of time known as the rehabilitation period. During the rehabilitation period the conviction is classed as 'unspent' meaning it needs to be disclosed when asked about any criminal convictions. After the rehabilitation period convictions are classed as 'spent' meaning they do not need to be disclosed when asked about criminal convictions.

There are exceptions to the ROA for certain occupations, professions and offices. These exceptions require the disclosure of both 'spent' and 'unspent' convictions and fall under The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 [3].

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 [4] made amendments to The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 [2], the changes came into force on 10th March 2014. The amendments reduce the amount of time (the rehabilitation period) certain convictions need to be disclosed. These amendments were made in order to help reduce re-offending and help offenders turn their backs on a life of crime, find gainful employment and earn an honest living.

The changes to rehabilitation periods are retrospective, meaning they apply to all convictions obtained before the changes came into force on 10th March 2014 as well as to convictions obtained after this date.

The length of the rehabilitation period depends on the sentence imposed - not the offence committed.

Rehabilitation Periods

SENTENCE REHABILITATION PERIOD
(adult offenders)
REHABILITATION PERIOD
(under 18 years)
CUSTODIAL SENTENCES
Prison sentence up to 6 months Tooltip 2 years
(beginning end of licence period)
18 months
(beginning end of licence period)
Prison sentence of more than 6 months and up to 30 months Tooltip 4 years
(beginning end of licence period)
2 years
(beginning end of licence period)
Prison sentence of more than 30 months and up to 4 years Tooltip 7 years
(beginning end of licence period)
3.5 years
(beginning end of licence period)
Prison sentence over 4 years Tooltip Never Spent Never Spent
NON-CUSTODIAL SENTENCES
A fine   1 year
(from date of conviction)
6 months
(from date of conviction)
A community order or youth rehabilitation order   1 year
(from last date order has effect, if no last date defined, rehabilitation period will be 2 years)
6 months
(from last date order has effect, if no last date defined, rehabilitation period will be 2 years)
A driving disqualification   End of Disqualification End of Disqualification
A compensation order   Once Paid in Full Once Paid in Full
Driving licence endorsement   5 years 2.5 years

If an offender receives multiple elements to a sentence which is usually the case (e.g. a fine, a driving disqualification and a driving licence endorsement), the longest rehabilitation period applies which in this case is 5 years for a driving licence endorsement.

The above rehabilitation periods are for sentences commonly passed upon conviction of drink driving related offences and is not a complete list of rehabilitation periods for all sentence options available.

Click here to view The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 in full

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Will my drink driving conviction show up on a DBS check (previously known as a CRB check) and do I have to disclose my conviction(s) to POTENTIAL employers?

The CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) is now known as the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service)
CRB checks are now known as DBS checks

The Disclosure and Barring Service Website

Do you have to disclose any criminal conviction(s) to potential employers?

It will depend upon the job you are applying for, the level of disclosure required (if any) and whether or not your conviction is classed as 'spent' under The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 [2] as to whether or not you need to disclose criminal convictions to potential employers. Please click here for details on rehabilitation periods.

If the job you are applying for is not classed as exempt and:

Your conviction(s) IS/ARE NOT classed as 'spent'

If your drink driving conviction (or other criminal conviction(s)) ARE NOT classed as 'spent' and any potential employer asks you if you have any criminal convictions, you must disclose your conviction(s).

Your conviction(s) ARE classed as 'spent'

If your drink driving conviction (or other criminal conviction(s)) ARE classed as 'spent' then you do not usually have to disclose your conviction(s) to potential employers when applying for jobs. However, certain areas of employment are exempt from The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 rules (see below).

Apply for a copy of your criminal record

If a job applicant has a criminal conviction that has become 'spent', any potential employer must treat the applicant as if the conviction has not happened. A refusal to employ a rehabilitated person on the grounds of a 'spent' conviction is unlawful under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 unless of course the job in question is exempt (see below).


Jobs that are exempt from The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

Jobs that are exempt usually require a DBS criminal record check to be carried out.

Certain jobs are exempt from The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and you will need to disclose both 'spent' and 'unspent' convictions for these types of job.

Jobs such as working in the close proximity of children and/or vulnerable adults are exempt from this rule as are other jobs including:

  • Private security related work
  • Armed forces: Navy, Army, RAF
  • Certain posts in the prison service
  • Certain posts in professions such as healthcare, law enforcement, law, police, judiciary, pharmacy and senior roles in banking
  • Medical practitioner, barrister, advocate, chartered accountant, certified accountant, dentist, dental hygienist, dental auxiliary, veterinary surgeon, nurse, midwife, doctor, optician, teacher, osteopath, chiropractor, psychologist, actuary, lawyer, legal executive, home inspector, police officer, traffic wardens, prison officers, probation officers.

More information on jobs and professions that are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

What is a DBS check (previously known as CRB check) and will my conviction(s) show up on a DBS check?

DBS checks are only available where an employer is entitled to ask an exempted question under The Exceptions Order to The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

There are multiple umbrella bodies that can process DBS checks. You can search for a particular umbrella body here.

Employers can require, for certain positions, that successful applicants give their permission for a DBS check to be carried out. This involves the employer contacting the Disclosure and Barring Service for more information on an applicants criminal history. There are three types of disclosure: Standard, Enhanced and Enhanced with adult and/or child.

  • STANDARD DBS CHECK / DISCLOSURE: Standard DBS checks contain information about an individuals criminal history including any convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings that are recorded on the police central database. Both 'spent' and 'unspent' convictions are revealed.
  • ENHANCED DBS CHECK / DISCLOSURE: Enhanced DBS checks contain the same level of information as a standard DBS check in addition to any information that is held locally by police about an individual.
  • ENHANCED DBS CHECK / DISCLOSURE & BARRED CHECK (child): This enhanced DBS check contains the same level of information as an enhanced DBS check alongside information form the DBS's children’s barred list. This level of check is relevant for individuals who are engaged in a regulated activity with children and a number of posts listed in the police act regulations (e.g. potential adoptive parents)
  • ENHANCED DBS CHECK / DISCLOSURE & BARRED CHECK (adult): This enhanced DBS check contains the same level of information as an enhanced DBS check alongside information form the DBS adults barred list. This level of check is relevant for individuals who are engaged in a regulated activity with adults and a number of posts listed in the police act regulations.
  • ENHANCED DBS CHECK / DISCLOSURE & BARRED CHECK (adult and child): This enhanced DBS check contains the same level of information as an enhanced DBS check alongside information form the DBS's children’s and adults barred list. This level of check is relevant for individuals who are engaged in a regulated activity with both children and adults alongside a number of posts listed in the police act regulations.

More information on Disclosure and Barring (DBS) checks including cost and how long they take from GOV.UK

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How can I obtain details of my criminal record?

There are two ways a person can obtain details of their criminal record. They can apply to the police for a copy of their police records (known as a subject access request) or they can apply online for a basic disclosure.


Applying for a Basic Disclosure

Current Fee: £25

A basic criminal record disclosure can be applied for online here. Everyone is eligible to apply for a basic disclosure on themselves for any purpose. The basic disclosure certificate will contain information on all 'unspent' convictions or will simply state no such convictions exist.


Applying to the Police (Subject Access Request)

Current Fee: £10

Everyone has a right to obtain information held about themselves by organizations and agencies under The Data Protection Act 1998 [5]. Applying for information held on police national computers (PNC) is known as a subject access request.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Jersey and IOM

The ACPO Criminal Records Office (ACRO) process subject access requests on behalf of most police forces in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Jersey, the Isle of Man and the British Transport Police. In order to make a subject access request you will need to complete a 'SAR1' form which can be downloaded here.

A subject access request will either provide you with a certificate stating there is currently no information held about you on the PNC or it will provide a list of information held about you on the PNC including all convictions and whether or not they are classed as 'spent' or 'unspent'.

You can also request information that may be held by your local police force alongside information from the police national computers. Requesting information from your local police force is included in the subject access request fee although there will be additional forms to complete which must be submitted to the data protection team at your local police force, more information can be found here.

Information held about you by your local police force could include things such as arrests, allegations and not-guilty findings.

Scotland

Police Scotland process subject access requests on behalf of police forces in Scotland. More information and a request for access to information form can be found here.

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Reference:

[1] The Road Traffic Act 1988

[2] Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

[3] The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975

[4] Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

[5] Data Protection Act 1998

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