Drink Driving Law Guide: Offences, Penalties & Bans

A quick pint after work, a glass of wine with Sunday lunch – there are lots of occasions where we might think about drink driving law. Often, those who commit drink driving offences aren’t aware of alcohol limits and don’t know how it affects them. Two bottles of beer might not place a 15-stone man over the limit but could do for a petite woman who hadn’t eaten. Your weight, metabolism, age, sex, stress levels, food intake and alcohol choice all play a role in drink driving.

Alcohol and car keys demonstrating potential of drink driving law being broken

If you’re found guilty of drink driving, you could face a fine, a ban or even imprisonment. All drink driving offences are dealt with by the Criminal Justice System, and your penalty will depend on the magistrates who hear your case.

What is Drink Driving Law?

Drink driving law states strict limits on alcohol for drivers:

  • 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath or
  • 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood or
  • 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine

These limits apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The law is different in Scotland to the rest of the UK.

Because of the various factors that affect your body, you might absorb alcohol at a different rate than someone else. If you are caught, you will be issued one or more of the drink driving penalties.

What Happens if You Get Caught Drink Driving?

If you are caught drink driving, you could be banned, face a fine or go to prison. The main drink driving offences include:

  • Being in charge of a vehicle when unfit to drive or over the limit
  • Driving or attempting to drive when unfit to drive or over the limit
  • Refusing to take a breath, blood or urine test
  • Causing death when unfit to drive or over the limit

Drink driving penalties are case-dependent but are always treat very seriously.

Drink Driving Offences: Being in Charge of a Vehicle

If you are in charge of a vehicle when over the legal limit or unfit to drive because of alcohol, you could face:

  • Three months’ imprisonment
  • Up to £2,500 fine
  • A driving ban

Being in charge of a vehicle isn’t always straightforward. If you’ve gone to the pub after work and have your car keys in your pocket, you are in charge of the vehicle but didn’t necessarily have the intent to drive. You may have planned on getting a taxi home and getting a friend bring you back to your car the next day.

Another example of being in charge of the vehicle could be when you are over the limit but decide to sleep in the back seat of your car. You may have had no intention of driving, but are still unfit to and in charge of the vehicle.

In either case, you could be charged against drink driving law. If this happens, it’s important to contact a road traffic lawyer. Drink driving solicitors can defend your case to achieve the most successful outcome.

Drink Driving Offences: Driving Over the Limit

If you’re caught driving or attempting to drive when over the limit, drink driving penalties are more severe. These cases are usually clearer because of the numerous tests used as evidence.

A police officer can pull you over on suspicion of breaking the drink driving law, if they have a reasonable cause to do so. You may be asked to take a field impairment and/or breath test, which provides the police officer with an immediate result. If you are over the limit, you will be taken to a police station and breathalysed again. A blood and urine sample may also be taken to prove you have committed a drink driving offence. If you are charged, you could face:

  • Six months’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A driving ban that lasts between 1-3 years

If you refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test, you are also breaking drink driving law.

Drink Driving Offences: Refusing to Provide a Breath, Blood or Urine Sample

If you fail to comply with a police officer suspicious of you committing an offence under drink driving law, you will be penalised. Refusing to take a breath, blood or urine test could mean:

  • Six months’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A driving ban that lasts at least one year

Drink Driving Offences: Causing Death When Over the Limit

Death by careless driving when over the limit or unfit to drive due to alcohol is the most serious offence. You may get:

  • 14 years’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A driving ban that lasts at least two years
  • An extended driving test before recovering your licence

Other Effects of Breaking Drink Driving Law

If an extensive fine, long driving ban and imprisonment weren’t already a considerable price to pay, drink driving penalties go even further. With a criminal record, you could lose your job, which inevitably has an enormous impact on drivers supporting their family. Your car insurance premiums will also increase drastically, and you may be unable to travel to some countries like the USA.

Going to Court for Drink Driving Offences

If you are charged with drink driving, you are being charged with a criminal offence. This means you will need to go to court. Therefore, it’s recommended you seek the help of specialist drink driving solicitors, so they can represent you in court and achieve the best results.

Drink Driving Solicitors

Drink driving solicitors provide expert insight, utilising their professional knowledge and wide experience to defend your case. There may be errors in police procedure, or perhaps you drank alcohol after the incident with your vehicle and not before. Whatever the circumstances, drink driving solicitors can offer their assistance to quickly and effectively manage your defence strategy, helping to reduce your penalty and potentially save you from losing your license or going to prison.

If you need more information about drink driving law, contact Major Family Law for fixed fees and a free initial consultation. If you have been charged with drink driving offences and need urgent assistance, call our Consultant Solicitor Charlie Waddell on 078 0271 7418 for more advice.