October 20, 2015

Types of drink driving offence

There are several types of drink driving offences that people can be charged with. These include:

  • Driving while exceeding the legal alcohol limit commonly referred to as “drink driving”
  • Death by careless driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Failing to provide a specimen

Driving with excessive alcohol

The charge of driving (or attempting to) while under the influence of alcohol is one of the most common drink driving charges.  In this type of case it needs to be proved by the prosecution that the defendant was driving, or attempting to drive, the vehicle and that a sample of blood, urine or breath had been correctly obtained and showed alcohol levels were above the legal limit.

If the defendant is found to be guilty of driving with excessive alcohol a minimum sentence of 12 months driving disqualification will be handed out. If the defendant is found to have a similar conviction in the last 10 years the minimum sentence is 3 years driving disqualification. On top of these minimum sentences a court can impose a prison sentence of up to 6 months. The severity of the punishment is guided by the variables such as the level of intoxication.

A motoring offence lawyer defending a client charged with an offence of this nature will look to scrutinise all elements of the case to ensure police procedures have been correctly followed and facts presented by the prosecution are correct. For example, checking that the offence took place on a public highway, and not, on private property.  As well as this they will look at the circumstances around the alleged offence to ascertain whether a “Special Reason” exists. In this circumstance a defendant will plead guilty but will look to avoid being banned for driving by arguing that the offence was committed due to the afore mentioned “Special Reason”. An example of a Special Reason could be having to drive because of an emergency or if your drinks had been spiked.

Death by careless driving under the influence of alcohol

For obvious reasons this is the most serious of drink driving related charges. As with all drink driving charges the driver of the vehicle needs be proven to have been unfit to drive through alcohol consumption with levels of alcohol being over the prescribed limit.

The seriousness of the offence is reflected in the sentencing with an unlimited fine, a driving ban of at least 2 years and up to 14 years imprisonment depending on the level of alcohol consumption.

Failure to provide a specimen

Failure to provide a specimen (breath test, urine or blood) either at the roadside or at a police station is a criminal offence. There are 3 variants of this type of offence, namely:

  1. Failure to cooperate with a preliminary test: this is when an individual refuses a roadside breathaliser test. Guilty convictions for this type of charge are a 4 penalty points or between 12 and 36 months driving disqualification and a fine of £1000.00.
  2. Failure to provide an evidential specimen: when an individual refuses to provide a sample of urine, blood or breath at the police station. If convicted of this type of offence punishment can include between 3 and 11 penalty points or a driving ban of between 12 and 36 months, a fine of up to £5000.00 and 6 months in prison.
  3. Failure to grant permission for a laboratory test: a specimen is allowed to be taken but an individual does not agree to it be analysed at a laboratory. The repercussions of a guilty conviction for this type of charge are the same as failing to provide an evidential specimen.


What do you do if charged with a drink driving offence?

As demonstrated by the severity of the penalties imposed for drink driving related offences being charged with a drink driving offence is very serious indeed.  It is imperative that you seek experienced legal representation from an experienced road traffic lawyer  at the earliest possible juncture.