Drink Driving - Road Traffic - Motoring - Criminal Law Solicitors
FIND DRINK DRIVING SOLICITORS IN YOUR AREA
Find motoring, road traffic, criminal, drink driving solicitors by using the interactive UK map above or the links below.
To give yourself the best chance of success in order to help save your driving licence or secure a lenient sentence you should instruct criminal defence solicitor specialising in drink driving and road traffic law ASAP.
Magistrates Court Guide
Step by step guide to appearing at magistrates court for drink driving offences.
I have been caught drink driving, do I need a solicitor?
At the police station
This is a decision only you can make. Ideally you should make arrangements to contact and seek advice from a solicitor at the police station when you are detained and before you make any formal statement, if indeed you are required to make a formal statement.
There is always a duty solicitor available on call 24 hours a day who provides free legal advice to people detained at the police station. The police should ask you if you want to contact a solicitor. While any person accused of a crime and detained at a police station has the right to contact a solicitor, the provision of an evidential specimen of breath, blood or urine CAN NOT be delayed.
You have a few options:
- You can ask to see a police station duty solicitor. Duty solicitors are on call 24 hours a day and provide free legal advice to anyone that needs it. Seeing a duty solicitor at the police station is free of charge no matter how much you may earn or have in savings.
- You can ask to see your own solicitor or one you have heard of.
- You can ask the police for their local list of solicitors if you do not have your own solicitor or you don't know of any solicitors.
- You can choose not to see a solicitor at the police station.
If you choose not to see a solicitor at the police station and you are charged with a drink driving related offence then it is usually in your best interests to find a solicitor to represent you in court, this should be done as soon as possible after you are charged.
A criminal defence solicitor with a good knowledge of road traffic, motoring and drink driving law will be able to examine all evidence and paperwork surrounding your case and will be able to ascertain whether or not the police have followed correct procedure at all times. If correct procedure has not been followed then you may have a defence to your drink driving charge.
They will also be able to advise you on the best course of action to take and at the very least will be able to put together a well structured plea of mitigation that can be presented to the court in order to help secure a lenient sentence.
Why do I need a solicitor, what can a solicitor do for me?
If you get a court summons or are charged with a drink driving related offence by the police you should seek expert legal advice from a solicitor as soon as possible. Your solicitor will advise you about any possible defence you may have, ensure correct statutory procedure has been followed and can represent you when you appear at court.
Even if you think you do not have a defence and intend to plead guilty, your solicitor will advise you on many legal aspects. This includes looking into any possibility of avoiding a driving ban due to 'special reasons' and putting forward a well structured plea of mitigation in order to help secure a lenient sentence.
Do I have to pay for a solicitor? Can I get legal aid?
This depends on which solicitor you would like to instruct to represent you, the seriousness of the offence you have been charged with and your financial circumstances.
Many solicitors carry out legal aid work. This means that they represent defendants and apply to the government for funding to cover the costs of their legal fees.
If you are on low income or state benefits you may qualify for legal aid. This means that hiring a solicitor who undertakes legal aid work may cost you very little, if anything.
There are two tests you need to pass in order to qualify for legal aid, a financial means test and an Interests of Justice 'merit' test. A legal aid solicitor will be able to advise you if you are likely to qualify for a legal aid representation order and make an application on your behalf.
If you would like to apply for legal aid then please make sure when contacting any solicitor that they actually do legal aid work before you make an appointment. At your first appointment your solicitor will help you fill out all the necessary forms in order to apply for legal aid. For more information on legal aid please see below.
LEGAL AID INFORMATION
ENGLAND AND WALES - Online Legal Aid Financial Eligibility Calculator (Legal Services Commission)
SCOTLAND - Online Legal Aid Financial Eligibility Calculator (SLAB - Scottish Legal Aid Board)
NORTHERN IRELAND - Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission (NILSC - Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission)
What are the possible defences to a drink driving charge?
The hip-flask defence: A person should not be convicted of drink driving (driving with excess alcohol) when they can prove that alcohol had been consumed AFTER the alleged offence and BEFORE they provided a specimen for analysis and had that alcohol not been consumed then the proportion of alcohol in their breath, blood or urine would not have exceeded the maximum legal prescribed limit.
The courts will make the assumption that the level of alcohol in a defendants body at the time of the alleged offence was not less than the level of alcohol in a defendants body at the time a breath, blood or urine specimen was provided for analysis unless the defence can rebut this assumption by adducing evidence to the contrary.
The burden of proof is on the defence to adduce factual evidence relating to their activities, movements and alcohol consumption between the time of the alleged offence and the time at which an evidential specimen was provided. Expert evidence is usually required from a scientist or pathologist relating to the elimination of alcohol from the defendants body.
Expert advice and representation from a solicitor specialising in drink driving laws is crucial in preparing the best possible defence to a drink driving charge.
Can I avoid a driving ban if I was driving due to an emergency or my drink was spiked?
Where a person is convicted of an offence involving an obligatory driving disqualification such as driving with excess alcohol, which carries a minimum mandatory driving disqualification of 12 months. The court may, for 'special reasons' and if they see fit, order a disqualification for a shorter period or decide not to disqualify at all.
Special reasons no to disqualify could include:
- The journey being embarked upon due to an emergency. If the driver can satisfy the court that the journey was what amounts to a genuine emergency, then a driving ban may be avoided.
- Being guilty of driving with excess alcohol as a result of a drivers drinks being laced with alcohol (spiked) without their knowledge.
- Moving the vehicle to prevent a hazard or an accident.
If a driver was under EXTREME duress, for example if a driver was driving while over the maximum legal prescribed drink drive limit due to death threats or the fear of EXTREME and IMMINENT physical injury and was literally fleeing for their life, this could possibly be seen as a special reason not to disqualify by the courts upon conviction of drink driving.
This line of defence may only succeed if the danger was immediate or imminent. Once the threat or danger becomes ineffective, the driver must stop driving, if they fail to do so, special reasons will not apply. Once this defence has been raised in court it is up to the prosecution to disprove it.
The law regarding special reasons is complex. Expert legal advice and representation from a solicitor specialising in drink driving law is crucial.
This information is a guide and not intended as legal advice.