Drink Driving Ban, Will I get Banned? How Long?

Have you been charged with drink driving and are now facing a drink driving ban? Are you worried about what sentence you will receive at court? Do you want to find out how long you will be banned for?

The following information will hopefully answer some of the many questions you have. You may also find the drink driving penalty calculator useful.

Is a driving ban definite for drink driving?

Yes. Drink driving is a criminal offence that carries an obligatory driving disqualification of a minimum period of 12 months as laid out by the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 section 34(1).

How long is a ban for drink driving?

A driving disqualification imposed by the court for drink driving will be for a minimum period of 12 months in accordance with UK Government legislation.

The minimum period of disqualification imposed upon conviction of drink driving will be automatically increased if an offender has certain previous disqualifications and/or convictions.

The minimum disqualification period will be increased to 2 years if an offender has been disqualified on two or more occasions for a period of 56 days or more within three years preceding the commission of the drink driving offence.

The minimum disqualification period will be increased to 3 years if within 10 years preceding the commission of the drink driving offence they have been convicted of any of the following offences:

  • causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs
  • driving or attempting to drive whilst unfit
  • driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol
  • failing to provided a specimen for analysis while driving or attempting to drive

The Magistrates’ when determining the length of disqualification to impose for drink driving will first determine the minimum disqualification period they must impose according to legislation as described above.

They will then refer to Magistrates Sentencing Guidelines which offers guidance in the form of recommended disqualification periods for drink driving offences.

The disqualification periods recommended by guidelines increase in line with the level of alcohol that was detected in an offenders system when they committed the drink driving offence.

The higher the level of alcohol that was in an offenders system at the time they committed the drink driving offence, the longer the driving disqualification will be.

The Magistrates’ will also assess all relevant circumstances surrounding the drink driving offence including any aggravating or mitigating factors which could result in an increase or decrease in the disqualification period, before they decide on the exact length of disqualification to impose.

A drink driving ban can be very lengthy if an offender has previous disqualifications and convictions or had a high level of alcohol in their system when they committed the offence.

Can a drink driving ban be avoided?

It is possible to avoid a disqualification when convicted of drink driving if ‘special reasons’ not to endorse or disqualify can be successfully established.

Any special reason put forward to the court asking them not to endorse or disqualify must relate directly to the commission of the drink driving offence.

Personal circumstances such as loss of job, income or home due to being disqualified or family members who rely on a person driving will not amount to special reasons.

Special reasons not to endorse or disqualify may include:

  • shortness of distance driven (yards or feet, not miles)
  • driving due to a genuine emergency (medical or otherwise)
  • laced / spiked drinks

If a person was charged with drink driving and they could prove to the court that they only drove the vehicle a few yards and had no intentions of driving any further then the court could theoretically use their discretion and decide not to disqualify.

The courts do not routinely allow convicted drink drivers to avoid disqualification and persuading the court to exercise their discretion to not impose a disqualification due to ‘special reasons’ can be a difficult task.

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