The upcoming Christmas festivities are now well within our sights.  This means it is also time for our local police forces to get their Christmas drink drive campaigns underway so what should you do if you are caught drink driving over Christmas?

Drink driving is a very serious issue.  An estimated 7,800 people were killed or injured in drink driving accidents in the UK in 2019 so it is no surprise that the police escalate their preventative activities at the time of year most of us enjoy a few drinks.  This means the best advice we can offer is avoid alcohol altogether if you are planning on driving and this includes the morning after. 

People all too often forget that aside from causing death or injury, driving offences have enormous personal consequences for drivers caught for driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

From a practical perspective, a drink driving offence will increase future insurance premiums, that’s if individual insurers even contemplate insuring you after a conviction.  

However, the loss of a driving licence can lead to loss of employment in a great many cases.  This in turn can lead to losing the ability to cover bills, household expenses and even mortgage repayments.  It can also place a huge strain on the driver’s family.  These are repercussions that will be felt for years to come.   

In addition, as with any criminal conviction, you may even find it hard to enter countries like the USA.  This could impact any plans you have to holiday, work or study abroad.

Can I get caught drink driving the morning after I’ve been drinking?

Our criminal barristers have seen a large number of clients come before the courts with alcohol readings that are not particularly high.  This is often because they were pulled over and tested the morning after they’d been out. 

Although this will most probably be out of ignorance rather than a deliberate decision to drive under the influence of drink or drugs, the consequences will be just as devastating.  You will still be judged to be over the legal limit even if it is by a minimal amount.

This brings us back to our best piece of advice.  No alcohol at all is the safest policy.

We’d urge you not to listen to urban myths like “2 pints is OK” or guestimations as to how much you ate, how long you slept or how long alcohol stays in your body type.  Most of all don’t decide to drive just because you feel fine.  Even if the effects aren’t obvious to you, they will be to the breathalyser. 

What will happen if you get caught?

Drink driving punishments depend on the seriousness of the offence but here the legal guidelines for the various types of drink driving offences:

If you’re in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit, or unfit through drink you will be facing up to three months in prison, a fine of up to £2,500 and a driving ban.

If you drive, or attempt to drive while above the limit, or unfit through drink you will be facing up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine and a driving ban of at least on year (or three years, if convicted twice in 10 years).

If you refuse to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis when you are stopped you will be facing up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine and a driving ban of at least one year.

If you cause death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol you will be facing up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, a driving ban of at least two years and an extended driving test before having your license returned.

In addition, if you are considered to be a ‘high risk offender’, you will need to pass a medical examination to get your license back after a drink driving ban.

High-risk offenders are those who have been convicted of two drink-driving offences within 10 years, had an alcohol reading of at least 87.5 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of breath, 200 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, or 267.5 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine when they were tested or if they refused to give the police the sample/s they requested.

Can I get out of a drink driving offence?

As you can imagine this is a question we are asked a lot particularly with reference to drink driving at Christmas. 

Our immediate response is simple.  Drink driving is a very serious offence.  If it can be proven beyond doubt that you were driving and over the legal limit you will be found guilty and you will have to face the legal consequences.

However, sometimes there are mitigating circumstances.  These include:

  • The Intoxilyzer Machine used was faulty and therefore provided an inaccurate reading.
  • Additional alcohol was consumed by the driver after a collision to calm their nerves.
  • Duress of circumstances; the driver had been forced to drive under the influence of drink or drugs because, for example, they were fleeing the threat of violence or had to take a passenger to find medical attention.
  • The arrest was made on private land (private land does not include car parks, caravan/camp sites or hotel or other leisure/retail outlets’ forecourts)
  • Your drink had been spiked.
  • There has been a procedural error, for example the police hadn’t correctly followed Home Office Guidelines on the use of the breath test machine, key questions haven’t been asked or the required warnings regarding breath, blood or urine samples weren’t given.

We repeat drink driving over Christmas – or indeed any other time – is a very serious offence that rightly carries severe punishment.  However, if you genuinely believe you have legitimate grounds for defence, you should talk to one of our barristers.  They will be able to analyse your case, the circumstances surrounding your case and what happened at the scene of the stop and in the custody suite to see if there is a suitable defence.

If you are caught drink driving over Christmas and feel you have been wrongly accused, please contact us today so we can arrange a meeting with one of the drink driving specialists in our criminal team.

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