Advice on excess alcohol offences from Universal Motoring Lawyers, drink driving Barristers for the North West including Manchester, Liverpool, Cheshire, Burnley, and Blackburn. We also have offices in London. If you have been charged with a drink driving offence you are facing an automatic driving ban (minimum 12 months) if convicted. This can have a devastating effect on your employment, business or family life. Read on to learn more about drink driving law in the UK, the UK drink drive limit and how you could avoid a driving ban.
Stopped by the police? What happens next?
The police are not allowed to stop drivers at random to check if they are over the alcohol driving limit. Police officers must have one of the following reasons before they can stop you to administer a breathalyser in the UK
- Reasonable suspicion of driving or being in charge of a vehicle on a road or other public place while you are over the alcohol driving limit (this also applies if you have already stopped driving).
- Reasonable suspicion that you are or have been driving or in charge of a vehicle on a road or other public place and you have committed a moving traffic offence.
- Reasonable suspicion that you were driving or in charge of a vehicle on a road or other public place and you have been involved in an accident.
What is the legal Drink Drive Limit?
The UK drink drive limit is as follows:
Blood: 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
Urine: 107 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine
Incorrect Police Procedures
Universal Motoring lawyers have successfully defended drivers by showing that the police have not followed the correct procedures in relation to breath, blood or urine samples. The machines used in the police station may be unreliable. Three breath testing machines are currently in use – The Intoximeter EC/IR, Lion Intoxilyzer 6000UK and Camic Datamaster. Another example is where the police do not give the statutory warning when requiring a sample. We will obtain the CCTV from the police station to determine exactly what happened there when you were breathalysed (or gave blood or urine). The CCTV may be proof positive that the police broke the rules. If we can show that they did not follow the correct procedures you are likely to be found not guilty.
Drink Driving Special Reasons
There are exceptional cases wheen though you are guilty of a drink driving offence, we still may be able to save your licence. If we can prove Special Reasons e.g. driving over a very short distance, a dire medical emergency or your drinks were laced, you may be able to avoid a driving ban. If the argument is laced drinks we will need to obtain expert scientific evidence to prove that going over the limit was caused exclusively by the additional alcohol put in the drinks without your knowledge.
Drunk in charge
There are 2 separate drink drive offences. Firstly driving or attempting to drive while over the alcohol driving limit. Secondly being in charge of a vehicle while over the limit, often called drunk in charge. A common example is when a driver decides to pull over and sleep in the car. We have won cases by proving the statutory defence that it was unlikely that the vehicle would be driven while the driver was still over the limit.
The Hip Flask Defence
This is the name given to a defence based on the fact that you drank alcohol AFTER you ceased driving or being in charge of a vehicle. The law presumes that the level of alcohol in your body at the time you were driving or in charge WAS AT LEAST AS MUCH as the reading in the specimen of breath, blood or urine given at the police station. However, if you can prove that the true amount of alcohol when you were actually driving or in charge, was less than the limit because of the amount you drank AFTER that time you will be found not guilty. The way to prove this is by a “back calculation”. This is scientific or medical proof that were it not for the post-driving consumption you would have been under the alcohol driving limit. Universal Motoring Lawyers are experienced in using the hip flask defence and we know the best experts to go to to carry out the back calculation.
Drink driving penalties
- Automatic driving ban for a minimum of 12 months
- Up to 6 months custody or a Community Order in the most serious cases
- Unlimited fine
- Prosecution costs and Victim Surcharge
When deciding on the length of the ban the court will consider such matters as the amount over the limit, any previous drink drive convictions and any record of poor driving. If you have had 2 or more disqualifications for 56 days or more in the preceding 3 years the minimum driving ban is 2 years. The starting point is 3 years if you have been convicted of a drink drive offence in the previous 10 years. However, one bright spot is that you can get the ban reduced by 25% if you agree to go on a voluntary drink driving rehabilitation course. If you are convicted of a drink driving offence you can be certain that we will fight your corner to get you the lowest possible sentence.
Removal of disqualification
If you do get banned for more than 2 years we can help you apply to the court for an early return of your driving licence. Even if your application is refused, you can apply again after 3 months. If your drink driving ban was for less than two years, the only option would be to appeal but you must do so in time and have good grounds.
However long the ban and whatever the background you can rely on Universal Motoring Lawyers to put forward every argument to get you back on the road.
Do the Crown Prosecution Service ever drop drink driving charges?
While it is rare for a case to be dropped prior to trial sometimes drink driving charges are dropped in the course of the trial. For instance, we have won cases by ripping apart the police officers’ evidence in cross-examination. In one case we showed that their account of the arrest and recollection of the procedure were totally unreliable. Seeing their case was hopeless the prosecution dropped the case without our client even giving evidence, what we lawyers call “no case to answer”.