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Drink Driving in the UK

Driving while unfit Through Drink or Drugs

Driving / attempting to drive while unfit

DVLA Endorsement Code: DR20 / DR80
Remains on driving licence for 11 years from date of conviction

It is an offence under s.4(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to drive or attempt to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place while being unfit to do so through drink or drugs.

A person shall be considered to be unfit to drive if his ability to drive properly is for the time being impaired.

Evidence is required to show:

  • unfitness to drive: evidence of unfitness to drive can be established by witness observations of the defendants driving and condition
  • presence of drink or drugs in the body: can be established by the result of a breath, blood or urine analysis or from witness observations such as a witness who testifies the defendant had been drinking
  • unfitness to drive was caused by drink or drugs

The absence of scientific evidence of drink or drugs in the defendants system is not fatal to a prosecution for this offence.

Penalties for driving or attempting while unfit through drink or drugs

A mandatory minimum 12 month disqualification will be imposed upon conviction of this offence in the absence of special reasons not to endorse or disqualify.

The minimum penalty imposed upon conviction is a 12 month driving disqualification alongside a low level community order (40-80 hours of unpaid work) and a band b fine (75-125% of relevant weekly income).

The maximum penalty that can be imposed for this offence is an unlimited fine and/or 6 months imprisonment alongside a lengthy driving disqualification.

Magistrates will refer to the sentencing guidelines and take into account all mitigating and aggravating factors surrounding individual cases before deciding on the appropriate sentence to impose.

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