Drunk in Charge of a Vehicle

Drunk Driving Solicitors & Lawyers

Drink Driving Offence

It is a criminal offence to be in charge of a motor vehicle while over the prescribed alcohol limit or whilst unfit through alcohol or drugs. You are unfit through alcohol or drugs if your ability to drive is impaired by drugs or alcohol. This can be identified through observations of your condition, impairment tests and/or analysis of your blood and urine.

The current legal limits for alcohol are:

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

The penalties if you are convicted of a drink driving offence/ being in charge of a vehicle will vary and the consequences can be serious.

You can receive:

• A discretionary disqualification;
• 10 penalty points (unless Special Reasons apply);
• A sentence which can range from a fine of up to £5000, through to a community sentence such as unpaid work in the community, an electronically monitored curfew, or can carry up to three months imprisonment for the most serious offenders;
• Disqualification for a minimum of six months;
• Potential loss of employment;
• Rise in insurance premiums;
• If you are a new driver and are sentenced to 10 penalty points, then your licence would be revoked and you would have to retake your test. Retaking your test is a costly exercise;
• A criminal record that will have to be declared to future employers that will only become spent after the time scales set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

There is a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 penalty points. If you are convicted, it can result in a ban under the “totting up” procedures if you have three points or more already on your licence.

An allegation of being drunk in charge of a vehicle can arise for example where you have returned to the vehicle for some reason and been found in its vicinity or you have been found asleep in the vehicle.

For a conviction the Crown must prove that you were ‘in charge’ of a motor vehicle in a public place whilst unfit or over the prescribed limit of alcohol.

In assessing the issue of whether you are ‘in charge’ of the vehicle, the Court will consider the following:

• Whether you were in the vehicle or how far away you were from it;
• What you were doing at the relevant time;
• Whether you were in possession of a key that fitted the ignition;
• Whether there was evidence of an intention to take or assert control of the vehicle by driving or otherwise;
• Whether any person was in, at or near the vehicle and, if so, the particulars in respect of that person.

What happens next?

If charged with the offence of being drunk in charge of a vehicle and you wish to defend the allegations you must prove that you had no intention of driving the vehicle.

Defences are available which are commonly referred to as “statutory defences”. There is a statutory defence available to the offence under s 4 and 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Our leading motoring law experts are on hand to guide you through the complexities and advise on the most appropriate defences, supporting you each step of the way. 

A driving licence can be vital to your everyday life and a conviction can have long lasting consequences. With the our Motor specialist service you have access to expert advice when you need it most.

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