Most people associate drink driving offences with getting behind the wheel after having a few too many. However, you could be charged with a drink driving offence even if you are not operating a vehicle, nor have operated the vehicle while having an excess of alcohol. The United Kingdom takes drink driving very seriously and has put in place very strict mandatory sentences if you are convicted of a drink driving offence. If you are charged with fraud, assault or another crime, you should get a criminal legal aid solicitor that handles cases of that sort. If you are facing drink driving charges, you should make a point of engaging a solicitor who has current experience handling cases that involve driving with excess alcohol and other drink driving offences.
Types of Drink Driving Offences
Drink driving offences fall into four primary categories, each of which carries a mandatory sentence. If you are convicted, the court has limited discretion in assigning a punishment. That’s one of the reasons that it’s important to have the advice of an experienced drink driving solicitor.
Driving with Excess Alcohol
If police believe you have been driving or attempting to drive after consuming more than the legal amount of alcohol, you may be charged with driving with excess alcohol. The police must follow very specific procedures when they book you for these types of charges. In the case of driving with excess alcohol, the police must be able to prove their case.
Generally speaking you cannot be convicted of driving with excess alcohol unless you have taken a breath, urine or blood test at the police station. Roadside testing devices are not approved devices for determining the level of alcohol. Again, generally speaking, results from roadside devices are not evidence for the courts. They simply help police determine whether you should be taken to the police station to undergo an official test.
If you are convicted, you will face a maximum of six months in prison, a 5,000 fine and a driving ban.
If you are required to go to the police station to give a specimen, it is vital to protect your rights by obtaining the advice of a solicitor. Even if you cannot pay, you must be given the opportunity to consult with a drink driving solicitor.
Failure to Provide a Specimen
Some believe that refusing to provide a sample of blood, breath or urine to be tested would be the best way to avoid a conviction, but failure to provide a specimen is in itself a crime. There are very few acceptable defenses to refusing to provide a specimen for testing, and will not lessen the punishments faced.
If you are convicted, you face a maximum of 6 months in prison and a 5,000 fine, along with a driving ban. If there is other evidence that you were intoxicated, the court can decide to add to your sentence. If the courts believe that the reason you refused to provide a sample is because you knew you were attempting to drive with excess alcohol, they can levy a sentence that is far more severe because they have no measure of how intoxicated you actually were.
Being Drunk in Charge of a Vehicle
You can also be charged and convicted if you are in or around your vehicle with the intention of driving your vehicle while you are legally over the limit. A good drink driving solicitor is your best defense if you are charged with this offence.
Driving While Unfit Through Drink or Drugs
The difference between being charged with driving with excess alcohol and driving while unfit is that the police must have a specimen proving that you were over the drink drive limit. If the police do not have a specimen, they can instead charge you with driving while unfit, and use as evidence an opinion provided by a police officer or doctor regarding your condition and suitability to drive.
If you are convicted, you could face six months in prison, a 5,000 fine and a driving disqualification.
Remember that you have the right to advice from a criminal legal aid solicitor any time you are taken to the police station or asked to present yourself at the police station. Don’t face charges on your own. Call an experienced drink driving solicitor for help.