Drink Driving : Laws, Penalties and Facts

by | Sep 6 2021 | Criminal Defence

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What are the laws surrounding drink driving?| 5 minute read

In 2018, TV’s Ant McPartlin received a 20-month driving ban and an £86,000 fine for drink driving, one of the largest “driving under the influence” fines ever issued in the UK. The presenter was driving a mini cooper when he lost control on a bend and collided with two other vehicles. Although no one was hurt, Mcpartlin’s case is a prime example of how easy it is to drink drive and that the penalties can be colossal.

In the UK, an average of 4,000 people a year get injured in drink driving related incidents. Despite this high number, driving under the influence continues to be one of the most common criminal offences, with nearly 85,000 people convicted every year.

If you are facing a drink driving charge we can help you today. Just give us a quick call on 020 3795 9020 or email the details of your matter to info@lgbtlawyers.co.uk.

A man opening a bottle of beer about to go drink driving

How does drinking alcohol affect your driving behaviour?

Driving safely requires the individual to be alert and competent enough to make rapid decisions. Drinking alcohol affects a persons coordination and comprehension, as well as reaction time and vision. When it comes to drink driving, alcohol may have the following effects: 

  • Limited eye/hand/foot coordination
  • Drowsiness, leading to losing control of the vehicle 
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow reflexes, meaning you may not be able to respond quickly to situations 

Is driving under the influence a criminal offence?

Yes, drink driving is most certainly a criminal offence under Section 5 (a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. If arrested, your case will likely go to the criminal courts, and you will need a criminal defence lawyer

What happens if you get caught driving under the influence?

In most drink driving cases, the police will pull you over and ask you to do a breathalyser test to see if you’re over the limit. If you come under the limit, you’ll be able to go, unless you are charged for another offence like dangerous driving. However, if you come over the limit, you’ll be arrested for drink driving.

The police will take you to the police station, and you’ll either be released with or without bail. Following this, you’ll either be bailed to appear at the police station or bailed to appear at court. Either way, you’ll need a defence lawyer on your side 

Statistics about drink driving

How many units can you drink and drive in the UK?

In England, the drink driving limit is as follows: 

  • 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood
  • 107mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine
  • 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath

Although this is the legal alcohol limit in the UK,  the effects of drinking will affect everyone differently. The effects of alcohol will depend on weight, height, metabolism and general tolerance to alcohol. 

What legal penalties are there for drink driving?  

You may receive:

  • 3 months’ imprisonment
  • Up to £2,500 fine
  • A possible driving ban
Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

You may get:

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)
Refusing to provide a specimen (of breath, blood or urine for analysis)

You may get:

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A ban from driving for at least 1 year
Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink

You may get:

  • 14 years’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A ban from driving for at least 2 years
  • An extended driving test before your licence is returned
The site of a car crash after drink driving

How long does driving under the influence stay on a criminal record? 

If the court convicts you of drink driving, you will then have a criminal record. Although most driving offences have a criminal record period of 5 years, drink driving offences can stay on criminal records and your driving license for significantly longer.

Can you drive after drinking alcohol-free beer? 

Alcohol-free beverages, like non-alcoholic wines and beers, are safe for drivers to consume before operating a vehicle. In the UK, non-alcoholic wines and beers do still have a 0.5% abv level. So, unless you’re drinking buckets and buckets of them, non-alcoholic wines and beers are safe to consume before driving. 

How can a lawyer help me? 

If you are arrested and face charges for drink driving, you’ll need to have a criminal defence lawyer on your side. Your lawyer will build a defence with you to make sure your case is as watertight as possible. Even if you intend to plead guilty, and there’s no real “defence” involved in your case, you’ll still need to consult with a defence lawyer to ensure everyone follows the correct statutory procedure.

Are you facing a community order offence?

If you’re facing charges for a drink driving offence, we can help you today. Our team can connect you to an experienced criminal defence lawyer today, to guide you through the options and oversee the process.

Speak to our team today on 020 3795 9020. Furthermore, you can contact us via email at info@lgbtlawyers.co.uk
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