Drink Driving Penalties
Magistrates Sentencing Guidelines

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Drink Driving Penalties & Sentencing Guidelines

What are the penalties for drink driving offences in the uk?

Drink driving is a criminal offence and 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.

Frequently asked questions on drink driving & motoring offence penalties

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 upon conviction of that particular driving offence.

Drink Driving Penalties & Offences

Driving / Attempting to Drive Offences

In Charge Offences

Fail / Refuse to Provide Specimen Offences



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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 in England & Wales. 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:

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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

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

Level of alcohol & appropriate sentence:
Breath Reading (ug): 36 - 59
Blood Reading (ml): 81 - 137
Urine Reading (ml): 108 - 183
Starting Point: Band C Fine
Range: Band C Fine
Disqualification: 12 - 16 Months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 40 Months
Breath Reading (ug): 60 - 89
Blood Reading (ml): 138 - 206
Urine Reading (ml): 184 - 274
Starting Point: Band C Fine
Range: Band C Fine
Disqualification: 17 - 22 Months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 46 Months
Breath Reading (ug): 90 - 119
Blood Reading (ml): 207 - 275
Urine Reading (ml): 275 - 366
Starting Point: Medium level community order
Range: Low level to high level community order
Disqualification: 23 - 28 Months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36-52 Months
Breath Reading (ug): 120 - 150 and above
Blood Reading (ml): 276 - 345 and above
Urine Reading (ml): 367 - 459 and above
Breath Reading: 120 - 150 and above
Starting Point: 12 weeks custody
Range: High level community order to 26 weeks custody
Disqualification: 29 - 36 Months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 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

Back to list of offences

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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

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

Examples of nature of activity:
Evidence of moderate level of impairment and no aggravating factors
Starting point: Band C Fine
Range: Band C Fine
Disqualification: 12 - 16 months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 40 Months
Evidence of moderate level of impairment and presence of one or more aggravating factors listed below
Starting point: Band C Fine
Range: Band C Fine
Disqualification: 17 - 22 months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 46 Months
Evidence of high level of impairment and no aggravating factors
Starting point: Medium level community order
Range: Low level to high level community order
Disqualification: 23 - 28 months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 52 Months
Evidence of high level of impairment and presence of one or more aggravating factors listed below
Starting point: 12 weeks custody
Range: High level community order to 26 weeks custody
Disqualification: 29 - 36 months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 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

Back to list of offences

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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
Examples of nature of activity:
Evidence of moderate level of impairment and no aggravating factors
Starting point: Band B Fine
Range: Band B Fine
10 Penalty points
Evidence of moderate level of impairment and presence of one or more aggravating factors listed below
Starting point: Band B Fine
Range: Band B Fine
10 Penalty points or consider disqualification
Evidence of high level of impairment and no aggravating factors
Starting point: Band C Fine
Range: Band C Fine
to medium level community order
10 Penalty points or consider disqualification
Evidence of high level of impairment and presence of one or more aggravating factors listed below
Starting point: High level community order
Range: Medium level community order to 12 weeks custody
Consider disqualification OR 10 Penalty points

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. 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 drive seriously impaired
  3. High likelihood of driving
  4. Driving for hire or reward

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Low likelihood of driving
Level of alcohol & appropriate sentence:
Breath Reading (ug): 36 - 59
Blood Reading (ml): 81 - 137
Urine Reading (ml): 108 - 183
Starting Point: Band B Fine
Range: Band B Fine
10 Penalty points
Breath Reading (ug): 60 - 89
Blood Reading (ml): 138 - 206
Urine Reading (ml): 184 - 274
Starting Point: Band B Fine
Range: Band B Fine
10 Penalty points OR consider disqualification
Breath Reading (ug): 90 - 119
Blood Reading (ml): 207 - 275
Urine Reading (ml): 275 - 366
Starting Point: Band C Fine
Range: Band C Fine to medium level community order
Consider disqualification up to 6 months OR 10 Penalty points
Breath Reading (ug): 120 - 150 and above
Blood Reading (ml): 276 - 345 and above
Urine Reading (ml): 367 - 459 and above
Starting Point: Medium level community order
Range: 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 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. Ability to drive 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

Back to list of offences

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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

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
Examples of nature of activity:
Defendant refused test when had honestly held but unreasonable excuse
Starting point: Band C Fine
Range: Band C Fine
Disqualification: 12 - 16 months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 40 months
Deliberate refusal or deliberate failure
Starting point: Low level community order
Range: Band C Fine to high level community order
Disqualification: 17 - 28 months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 52 months
Deliberate refusal or deliberate failure where evidence of serious impairment
Starting point: 12 weeks custody
Range: High level community order to 26 weeks custody
Disqualification: 29 - 36 months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 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. Evidence of unacceptable standard of driving
  2. LGV, HGV, PSV etc.
  3. Obvious state of intoxication
  4. Driving for hire or reward

Factors indicating lower culpability

  1. Genuine but unsuccessful attempt to provide specimen

Factors indicating greater degree of harm

  1. Involved in accident

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
Examples of nature of activity:
Defendant refused test when had honestly held but unreasonable excuse
Starting point: Band B Fine
Range: Band B Fine
10 penalty points
Deliberate refusal or deliberate failure
Starting point: Band C Fine
Range: Band C Fine to medium level community order
Consider disqualification OR 10 penalty points
Deliberate refusal or deliberate failure where evidence of serious impairment
Starting point: Medium level community order
Range: 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 listed 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

Back to list of offences

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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

Examples of nature of activity:
Failing to co-operate with preliminary roadside breath test
Starting point: Band B Fine
Range: Level 3 Fine
4 penalty 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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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 2016.

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?


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 Magistrates' 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:

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 alongside 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:

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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 orders 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 of offenders 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 which is similar to house arrest. An offender is required 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 designed to reduce alcohol abuse and/or 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 which 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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Reference:

[1] The Road Traffic Act 1988