Drink Driving Penalties
Magistrates Sentencing Guidelines


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, alternatively you may use our drink driving penalty calculator.

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 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:

Last Updated: October 12 2017

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

Triable: Summarily
Maximum: Unlimited Fine and/or 6 months

Steps 1 and 2

Determining the offence seriousness

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

Starting point applies to all offenders irrespective or plea or previous convictions

Level of alcohol Starting Point Range Disqualification Disqualification (2nd offence in 10 years)

Breath(ug)

Blood (ml)

Urine (ml)

       

36 - 59

81 - 137

108 - 183

Band C Fine

Band B - Band C Fine

12 - 16 months

36 - 40 months

60 - 89

138 - 206

184 - 274

Band C Fine

Band C Fine - Low level community order

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 (Extend if imposing immediate custody)

36 - 60 months

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 B - 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 - Low level community order
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
Starting Point: 12 weeks custody
Range: High level community order to 26 weeks custody
Disqualification: 29 - 36 Months (extended disqualification if immediate custody imposed)
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 60 Months (extended disqualification if immediate custody imposed)

NOTE: when considering the guidance regarding the length of disqualification in the case of a second offence, 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 but disqualification must be for at least three years.

The court should then consider further adjustment for any aggravating or mitigating factors. The following is a non-exhaustive list of additional factual elements providing the context of the offence and factors relating to the offender. Identify whether any combination of these, or other relevant factors, should result in an upward or downward adjustment from the sentence arrived at so far.

Factors increasing seriousness of offence

Statutory aggravating factors

Other aggravating factors

Factors reducing seriousness or reflecting personal mitigation

* even where not amounting to special reasons

Step 3

Consider any factors which indicate a reduction, such as assistance to the prosecution

The court should take into account sections 73 and 74 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (assistance by defendants: reduction or review of sentence) and any other rule of law by virtue of which an offender may receive a discounted sentence in consequence of assistance given (or offered) to the prosecutor or investigator.

Step 4

Reduction for guilty pleas

The court should take account of any potential reduction for a guilty plea in accordance with section 144 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and guilty plea guidelines. SEE NOTE

Step 5

Totality principle

If sentencing an offender for more than one offence, or where the offender is already serving a sentence, consider whether the total sentence is just and proportionate to the overall offending behaviour in accordance with the offences taken into consideration and totality guidelines.

Step 6

Compensation and ancillary orders

In all cases, the court should consider whether to make compensation and/or other ancillary orders including offering a drink driving rehabilitation course, deprivation and/or forfeiture or suspension of personal liquor licence.

Step 7

Reasons

Section 17 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 imposes a duty to give reasons for, and explain the effect of, the sentence.

Step 8

Consideration for time spent on bail

The court must consider whether to give credit for time spent on bail in accordance with section 240A of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

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

Triable: Summarily
Maximum: Unlimited fine and/or 6 months

Step 1

Determining the offence category

The court should determine the offence category:

The court should determine the offender's culpability and the harm caused with reference only to the factors below. Where an offence does not fall squarely into a category, individual factors may require a degree of weighting before making an overall assessment and determining the appropriate offence category.

CULPABILITY demonstrated by one or more of the following:

Factors indicating higher culpability

Factors indicating lower culpability

HARM demonstrated by one or more of the following:

Factors indicating greater harm

Factors indicating lesser harm

Step 2

Starting point and category range

Having determined the category at step one, the court should use the appropriate starting point to reach a sentence within the category range in the table below.

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

Starting point applies to all offenders irrespective of plea or previous convictions

Level of seriousness Starting Point Range Disqualification Disqual. 2nd offence in 10 years

Category 1

12 weeks custody

High level community order to 26 weeks custody

29 - 36 months
(Extend if imposing immediate custody)

36 - 60 months
(Extend if imposing immediate custody)

Category 2

Medium level community order

Low level community order to high level community order

17 - 28 months

36 - 52 months

Category 3

Band C Fine

Band B Fine - Low level community order

12 - 16 months

36 - 40 months

Level of seriousness:
Category 1
Starting point: 12 weeks custody
Range: High level community order - 26 weeks custody
Disqualification: 29 - 36 months (Extend if imposing immediate custody)
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 60 months (Extend if imposing immediate custody)
Category 2
Starting point: Medium level community order
Range: Low level - high level community order
Disqualification: 17 - 28 months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 52 Months
Category 3
Starting point: Band C Fine
Range: Band B Fine - Low level community order
Disqualification: 12 - 16 months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 40 Months

NOTE: when considering the guidance regarding the length of disqualification in the case of a second offence, the period 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 but disqualification must be for at least three years.

The court should then consider further adjustment for any aggravating or mitigating factors. The following is a non-exhaustive list of additional factual elements providing the context of the offence and factors relating to the offender. Identify whether any combination of these, or other relevant factors, should result in an upward or downward adjustment from the sentence arrived at so far.

Factors increasing seriousness

Statutory aggravating factors

Other aggravating factors

Factors reducing seriousness or reflecting personal mitigation

Step 3

Consider any factors which indicate a reduction, such as assistance to the prosecution

The court should take into account sections 73 and 74 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (assistance by defendants: reduction or review of sentence) and any other rule of law by virtue of which an offender may receive a discounted sentence in consequence of assistance given (or offered) to the prosecutor or investigator.

Step 4

Reduction for guilty pleas

The court should take account of any potential reduction for a guilty plea in accordance with section 144 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and guilty plea guidelines. SEE NOTE

Step 5

Totality principle

If sentencing an offender for more than one offence, or where the offender is already serving a sentence, consider whether the total sentence is just and proportionate to the overall offending behaviour in accordance with the offences taken into consideration and totality guidelines.

Step 6

Compensation and ancillary orders

In all cases, the court should consider whether to make compensation and/or other ancillary orders including offering a drink driving rehabilitation course, deprivation and/or forfeiture or suspension of personal liquor licence.

Step 7

Reasons

Section 17 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 imposes a duty to give reasons for, and explain the effect of, the sentence.

Step 8

Consideration for time spent on bail

The court must consider whether to give credit for time spent on bail in accordance with section 240A of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

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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

Step 1

Determining the offence category

The court should determine the offence category:

The court should determine the offender's culpability and the harm caused with reference only to the factors below. Where an offence does not fall squarely into a category, individual factors may require a degree of weighting before making an overall assessment and determining the appropriate offence category.

CULPABILITY demonstrated by one or more of the following:

Factors indicating higher culpability

Factors indicating lower culpability

HARM demonstrated by one or more of the following:

Factors indicating greater harm

Factors indicating lesser harm

Step 2

Starting point and category range

Having determined the category at step one, the court should use the appropriate starting point to reach a sentence within the category range in the table below.

Starting point applies to all offenders irrespective of plea or previous convictions

Level of seriousness Starting Point Range Disqualification/points

Category 1

High level community order

Medium level community order - 12 weeks custody

Consider disqualification
(Extend if imposing immediate custody)
OR 10 points

Category 2

Band C Fine

Band B Fine - medium level community order

Consider disqualification
OR 10 points

Category 3

Band B Fine

Band B Fine

10 points

Level of seriousness:
Category 1
Starting point: High level community order
Range: Medium level community order - 12 weeks custody
Disqualification/points: Consider disqualification (Extend if imposing immediate custody) OR 10 points
Category 2
Starting point: Band C Fine
Range: Band B Fine - Medium level community order
Disqualification/points: Consider disqualification OR 10 points
Category 3
Starting point: Band B Fine
Range: Band B Fine
Disqualification: 10 points

The court should then consider further adjustment for any aggravating or mitigating factors. The following is a non-exhaustive list of additional factual elements providing the context of the offence and factors relating to the offender. Identify whether any combination of these, or other relevant factors, should result in an upward or downward adjustment from the sentence arrived at so far.

Factors increasing seriousness

Statutory aggravating factors

Other aggravating factors

Factors reducing seriousness or reflecting personal mitigation

Step 3

Consider any factors which indicate a reduction, such as assistance to the prosecution

The court should take into account sections 73 and 74 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (assistance by defendants: reduction or review of sentence) and any other rule of law by virtue of which an offender may receive a discounted sentence in consequence of assistance given (or offered) to the prosecutor or investigator.

Step 4

Reduction for guilty pleas

The court should take account of any potential reduction for a guilty plea in accordance with section 144 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and guilty plea guidelines. SEE NOTE

Step 5

Totality principle

If sentencing an offender for more than one offence, or where the offender is already serving a sentence, consider whether the total sentence is just and proportionate to the overall offending behaviour in accordance with the offences taken into consideration and totality guidelines.

Step 6

Compensation and ancillary orders

In all cases, the court should consider whether to make compensation and/or other ancillary orders including offering a drink driving rehabilitation course, deprivation and/or forfeiture or suspension of personal liquor licence.

Step 7

Reasons

Section 17 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 imposes a duty to give reasons for, and explain the effect of, the sentence.

Step 8

Consideration for time spent on bail

The court must consider whether to give credit for time spent on bail in accordance with section 240A of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

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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

Steps 1 and 2

Determining the offence seriousness

Starting point applies to all offenders irrespective or plea or previous convictions

Level of alcohol Starting Point Range Disqualification / Points

Breath(ug)

Blood (ml)

Urine (ml)

     

36 - 59

81 - 137

108 -183

Band B Fine

Band A - Band B Fine

10 points

60 - 89

138 - 206

184 - 274

Band B Fine

Band B - Band C Fine

Consider disqualification or 10 points

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 (Extend if imposing immediate custody)

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 A - Band B Fine
Disqualification/points: 10 points
Breath Reading (ug): 60 - 89
Blood Reading (ml): 138 - 206
Urine Reading (ml): 184 - 274
Starting Point: Band B Fine
Range: Band B - Band C Fine Disqualification/points: Consider disqualification OR 10 points
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
Disqualification/points: Consider disqualification up to 6 months OR 10 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
Disqualification/points: Disqualify 6-12 months (Extend if imposing immediate custody)

Factors increasing seriousness of offence

Statutory aggravating factors

Other aggravating factors

Factors reducing seriousness or reflecting personal mitigation

* even where not amounting to special reasons

Step 3

Consider any factors which indicate a reduction, such as assistance to the prosecution

The court should take into account sections 73 and 74 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (assistance by defendants: reduction or review of sentence) and any other rule of law by virtue of which an offender may receive a discounted sentence in consequence of assistance given (or offered) to the prosecutor or investigator.

Step 4

Reduction for guilty pleas

The court should take account of any potential reduction for a guilty plea in accordance with section 144 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and guilty plea guidelines. SEE NOTE

Step 5

Totality principle

If sentencing an offender for more than one offence, or where the offender is already serving a sentence, consider whether the total sentence is just and proportionate to the overall offending behaviour in accordance with the offences taken into consideration and totality guidelines.

Step 6

Compensation and ancillary orders

In all cases, the court should consider whether to make compensation and/or other ancillary orders including offering a drink driving rehabilitation course, deprivation and/or forfeiture or suspension of personal liquor licence.

Step 7

Reasons

Section 17 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 imposes a duty to give reasons for, and explain the effect of, the sentence.

Step 8

Consideration for time spent on bail

The court must consider whether to give credit for time spent on bail in accordance with section 240A of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

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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: Unlimited Fine and/or 6 months

Step 1

Determining the offence category

The court should determine the offence category:

The court should determine the offender's culpability and the harm caused with reference only to the factors below. Where an offence does not fall squarely into a category, individual factors may require a degree of weighting before making an overall assessment and determining the appropriate offence category.

CULPABILITY demonstrated by one or more of the following:

Factors indicating higher culpability

Factors indicating lower culpability

HARM demonstrated by one or more of the following:

Factors indicating greater harm

Factors indicating lesser harm

Step 2

Starting point and category range

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

Starting point applies to all offenders irrespective of plea or previous convictions

Level of seriousness Starting Point Range Disqualification Disqual. 2nd offence in 10 years

Category 1

12 weeks custody

High level community order to 26 weeks custody

29 - 36 months
(Extend if imposing immediate custody)

36 - 60 months
(Extend if imposing immediate custody)

Category 2

Medium level community order

Low level community order to high level community order

17 - 28 months

36 - 52 months

Category 3

Band C Fine

Band B Fine - Low level community order

12 - 16 months

36 - 40 months

Level of seriousness:
Category 1
Starting point: 12 weeks custody
Range: High level community order - 26 weeks custody
Disqualification: 29 - 36 months (Extend if imposing immediate custody)
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 60 months (Extend if imposing immediate custody)
Category 2
Starting point: Medium level community order
Range: Low level - high level community order
Disqualification: 17 - 28 months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 52 Months
Category 3
Starting point: Band C Fine
Range: Band B Fine - Low level community order
Disqualification: 12 - 16 months
Disqualification (2nd offence within 10 years): 36 - 40 Months

NOTE: when considering the guidance regarding the length of disqualification in the case of a second offence, the period 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 but disqualification must be for at least three years.

The court should then consider further adjustment for any aggravating or mitigating factors. The following is a non-exhaustive list of additional factual elements providing the context of the offence and factors relating to the offender. Identify whether any combination of these, or other relevant factors, should result in an upward or downward adjustment from the sentence arrived at so far.

Factors increasing seriousness

Statutory aggravating factors

Other aggravating factors

Factors reducing seriousness or reflecting personal mitigation

Step 3

Consider any factors which indicate a reduction, such as assistance to the prosecution

The court should take into account sections 73 and 74 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (assistance by defendants: reduction or review of sentence) and any other rule of law by virtue of which an offender may receive a discounted sentence in consequence of assistance given (or offered) to the prosecutor or investigator.

Step 4

Reduction for guilty pleas

The court should take account of any potential reduction for a guilty plea in accordance with section 144 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and guilty plea guidelines. SEE NOTE

Step 5

Totality principle

If sentencing an offender for more than one offence, or where the offender is already serving a sentence, consider whether the total sentence is just and proportionate to the overall offending behaviour in accordance with the offences taken into consideration and totality guidelines.

Step 6

Compensation and ancillary orders

In all cases, the court should consider whether to make compensation and/or other ancillary orders including offering a drink driving rehabilitation course.

Step 7

Reasons

Section 17 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 imposes a duty to give reasons for, and explain the effect of, the sentence.

Step 8

Consideration for time spent on bail

The court must consider whether to give credit for time spent on bail in accordance with section 240A of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

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

Step 1

Determining the offence category

The court should determine the offence category:

The court should determine the offender's culpability and the harm caused with reference only to the factors below. Where an offence does not fall squarely into a category, individual factors may require a degree of weighting before making an overall assessment and determining the appropriate offence category.

CULPABILITY demonstrated by one or more of the following:

Factors indicating higher culpability

Factors indicating lower culpability

HARM demonstrated by one or more of the following:

Factors indicating greater harm

Factors indicating lesser harm

Step 2

Starting point and category range

Starting point applies to all offenders irrespective of plea or previous convictions

Level of seriousness Starting Point Range Disqualification/points

Category 1

Medium level community order

Low level community order - 6 weeks custody

Disqualify 6 - 12 months
(Extend if imposing immediate custody)

Category 2

Band C Fine

Band C Fine - medium level community order

Disqualify up to 6 months
OR 10 points

Category 3

Band B Fine

Band B Fine

10 points

Level of seriousness:
Category 1
Starting point: Medium level community order
Range: Low level community order - 6 weeks custody
Disqualification/points: Disqualify 6 - 12 months (Extend if imposing immediate custody)
Category 2
Starting point: Band C Fine
Range: Band C Fine - Medium level community order
Disqualification/points: Disqualify up to 6 months OR 10 points
Category 3
Starting point: Band B Fine
Range: Band B Fine
Disqualification: 10 points

The court should then consider further adjustment for any aggravating or mitigating factors. The following is a non-exhaustive list of additional factual elements providing the context of the offence and factors relating to the offender. Identify whether any combination of these, or other relevant factors, should result in an upward or downward adjustment from the sentence arrived at so far.

Factors increasing seriousness

Statutory aggravating factors

Other aggravating factors

Factors reducing seriousness or reflecting personal mitigation

Step 3

Consider any factors which indicate a reduction, such as assistance to the prosecution

The court should take into account sections 73 and 74 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (assistance by defendants: reduction or review of sentence) and any other rule of law by virtue of which an offender may receive a discounted sentence in consequence of assistance given (or offered) to the prosecutor or investigator.

Step 4

Reduction for guilty pleas

The court should take account of any potential reduction for a guilty plea in accordance with section 144 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and guilty plea guidelines. SEE NOTE

Step 5

Totality principle

If sentencing an offender for more than one offence, or where the offender is already serving a sentence, consider whether the total sentence is just and proportionate to the overall offending behaviour in accordance with the offences taken into consideration and totality guidelines.

Step 6

Compensation and ancillary orders

In all cases, the court should consider whether to make compensation and/or other ancillary orders including offering a drink driving rehabilitation course, deprivation and/or forfeiture or suspension of personal liquor licence.

Step 7

Reasons

Section 17 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 imposes a duty to give reasons for, and explain the effect of, the sentence.

Step 8

Consideration for time spent on bail

The court must consider whether to give credit for time spent on bail in accordance with section 240A of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

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 2017.

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

  1. I have been charged with drink driving and I am now on bail, what does this mean exactly?
  2. What should I do in preparation for my drink driving court case?
  3. What will happen on the day of my drink driving court case and what should I do?
  4. What is a pre-sentence report?
  5. What sentences are available for magistrates to impose for drinking driving offences?
  6. What is a community order?
  7. What is a compulsory unpaid work requirement?
  8. What is a curfew requirement?
  9. What is a supervision requirement?
  10. What is an alcohol treatment requirement?
  11. Can I appeal against my sentence or conviction?
  12. How long does a drink driving endorsement stay on my driving licence?
  13. How long does a drink driving related conviction stay on my record before it becomes spent?

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. Alternatively you can download the appeal form to appeal to the crown court and/or the magistrates court yourself.

You can download the form in PDF format here and in word format here. You can then fill out the appeal form yourself and send it to the relevant court(s).

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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)
DR20 - Drive or attempt to drive while unfit through drink or drugs 11 years
(from date of conviction)
DR30 - Failing to provide a specimen of analysis while driving or attempting to drive a vehicle 11 years
(from date of conviction)
DR31 - Driving or attempting to drive a vehicle then refusing to give permission for analysis of a blood sample that was taken without consent due to incapacity 11 years
(from date of conviction)
Endorsement codes DR40 - DR70 remain on your driving licence for 4 years from the date of offence OR 4 years from the date of conviction where a disqualification was imposed for the offence.
DR40 - In charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol 4 years
DR50 - In charge of a vehicle while unfit through drink 4 years
DR60 - Failing to provide a specimen for analysis while in charge of a vehicle 4 years
DR70 - Failing to co-operate with a preliminary roadside breath test 4 years

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 related conviction stay on my record before it becomes spent?

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 [2] allows certain convictions to become 'spent' after a specified period of time (the rehabilitation period). The period of time before a conviction can become spent will depend on the disposal administered or the sentence imposed.

The Rehabilitation of offenders act states 'a person who has become a rehabilitated person for the purposes on this act in respect of a conviction shall be treated for all purposes in law as a person who has not committed or been charged with or prosecuted for or convicted of or sentenced for the offence or offences which were subject of that conviction'.

This means that in most circumstances an individual who has spent convictions does not have to declare them to employers when applying for most jobs, insurers etc. However there are exceptions to this rule whereby both spent and unspent convictions need to be disclosed for certain professions, offices, employments, occupations, licences, certificates, permits and proceedings as set out in The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975.

Some rehabilitation periods begin on the date of conviction while some rehabilitation periods begin upon completion of sentence. The rehabilitation periods which begin once a sentence has been completed are commonly referred to as 'buffer periods'.


Rehabilitation periods for sentences with additional 'buffer periods'

The table below sets out rehabilitation period which begins once the sentence has been completed.

Sentence / Disposal Adults (18 & over) Youth (18 & under)
Community order 12 months 6 months
Custodial sentence of over 4 years Never spent Never spent
Custodial sentence of over 30 months and up to and including 48 months 7 years 3.5 years
Custodial sentence of over 6 months and up to and including 30 months 4 years 2 years
Custodial sentence of up to 6 months 2 years 18 months
A custodial sentence includes both an immediate custodial sentence and custodial sentences which are suspended. If a person is released from custody on licence, then the rehabilitation period will begin at the end of the licence period.

For example if a person was sentenced to 180 hours of community service then the rehabilitation period would begin once the hours of community service had been completed.


Rehabilitation periods for sentences which begin on the date of conviction

The following table sets out the rehabilitation period for sentences / disposals that do not have buffer periods. The rehabilitation period starts on the date of conviction:

Sentence / Disposal Adults (18 & over) Youth (18 & under)
Fine 12 months 6 months
Licence Endorsement 5 years 2.5 years
Driving Disqualification Last day of ban Last day of ban
Compensation order Once paid Once paid

For example if an adult was convicted of drink driving (driving with excess alcohol) and was disqualified for 18 months (rehabilitation period 18 months) and fined (rehabilitation period 12 months). They would receive a DR10 driving licence endorsement (rehabilitation period 5 years). The total rehabilitation period for this person would be 5 years, beginning from the date of conviction.

Where a person receives multiple punishments, the rehabilitation period is always the longest period that applies.

Further reading (rehabilitation of offenders & criminal records):

Disclosure & Barring Service

ENGLAND AND WALES

New Guidance on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

SCOTLAND

Disclosure Scotland

NORTHERN IRELAND

Changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) Order (Northern Ireland) 1979

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Reference:

[1] The Road Traffic Act 1988

[2] The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974