Excess Alcohol – Drink Driving Offence
It is an offence to drive, or attempt to drive, a motor vehicle on a road of other public place whilst over the prescribed limit, which are as follows:
Breath: maximum of 35 ug of alcohol in 100 ml of breath
Blood : maximum of 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood
Urine : maximum of 107 of alcohol in 100 ml of urine
It is also an offence to be in charge of a motor vehicle whilst over the prescribed limit. However, a motorist will have a defence if it is proven that, at the material time, there was no likelihood of driving that vehicle whilst the proportion of alcohol in their body exceeded the limit. This defence is not likely to be successful where a passenger is prosecuted under this section, who at the time was supervising a “learner” driver.
This is an extremely technical and complex area of law. So much so that the police often make material errors in the procedure that they follow. Those defects in procedure, if significant enough, can result in a case being thrown out of Court and someone being found not guilty.
My brief solicitors are experts in this field and it is essential you contact us immediately so we can talk you through the possible loopholes.
There are a further ways in which this offence may be challenged. Post driving consumption (the “hip flask” defence) is one way whilst it is also possible to argue that the offence alleged did not occur on a road or public place. Cases may also be fought on the basis of identification evidence or by putting forward the argument that the amount of alcohol consumed is not comparable with the reading provided by the screening device. If successful, this could lead to an inference that the machine was not functioning correctly and so the reading obtained should not be relied on by the Court. This would mean that the court would have to deliver a not guilty verdict.
Don’t get into the bad habit and lose your licence
People who drink drive are certain to lose their licence and pay a fine that can result in prosecution.
In worst case scenario it can lead to loss of employment , failing to keep up mortgage repayments , loss of health and Relationship breakdowns.
But it does not have to be like this.
How we Help
The case against one of our client’s Mr R a Gravesend man accused of drink driving was dropped out of Court by the Crown Prosecution Service because of procedural errors by the Police. Mr R was charged with having 120 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine (the legal limit being 107 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine. If he had been convicted of the offence he would have been disqualified for at least 16 months as well as receiving a fine and costs. However due to an error on behalf of the Police the Prosecution had to stopped this case. Initially, Mr R was asked to provide a specimen of breath for alcohol testing, but the device proved to be inaccurate. The Police then asked for a sample of urine to be taken. Unfortunately the Police failed to abide by the guidelines and amongst other things, used the same sample pot to obtain the two samples of urine which is required by the law in order to fairly assess the amount of alcohol in a driver’s urine. This failure led to the real possibility of cross contamination of the two samples and therefore it could not clear as to whether or not Mr R had in fact been over the legal limit when he was stopped driving by the Police. Initially Mr R did not have legal representation and in fact resigned from his job as a car salesman on the basis he thought he had no choice but to plead guilty. This error was only discovered when speaking to Mybrief Solicitors at their offices in Chatham Dockyard in Kent. Jeremy Betts, Managing Director of Mybrief Solicitors said after the case: “drink driving is a very serious offence with dire consequences. However it is the duty of the police to make sure that the correct procedures are followed when trying to prosecute the offence. In this case these procedures where not followed and therefore rightly Mr R’s case was dropped. It is a shame Mr R was forced to enter a not guilty plea in January of this year and it was only 5 months later that htis matter was thoroughly investigated by the Prosecution and his case was dropped” Mr R commented after the case: “as a says as a 21 year old car salesman I relied on my driving licence to earn a living. In November 2009 I was arrested for drink driving, my lack of knowledge of the legal process had left me in a panic with my back to the wall. I thought that the only thing I could do was to plead guilty. That’s when I sought the help of Jeremy Betts of Mybrief Solicitors. Jeremy explained to me in a very relaxed and professional manner that he would endeavour to ensure I was being treated fairly. I was ashamed of the situation I found myself in but Jeremy reassured me that despite the circumstances he would work towards the best outcome for me. I was unaware that the Police had not followed out the correct procedure. However Jeremy’s extensive knowledge of road traffic law mixed with his determination and professionalism prevailed. I have now kept my clean licence and I have learnt may valuable lessons”
The penalty for driving with excess alcohol varies depending upon the level of intoxication. However, disqualification is automatic on conviction and mandatory, unless special reasons can be found. In serious cases the Court will consider imposing a custodial sentence, of a maximum period of 6 months. In less serious cases the minimum disqualification of 12months and a financial penalty of up to £5000.00 may be imposed. However, where there is at least a second similar, or other alcohol related offence, within the last 10 years the risk of custody will be increased and a minimum 3 year disqualification will be imposed. The penalty for being drunk in charge is 10 penalty points, or a discretionary disqualification, and a financial penalty of up to £2500.00. However, in serious cases the Court can sentence to a maximum term of 3 months custody.
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