Can you go to Jail for Drink Driving?
If you have been charged with Drink Driving, a common concern for many motorists is whether they will go to jail for drink driving. This is a valid concern and one which requires an individual assessment of each specific case, if you would like to speak with one of our driving offence legal team, please call us on 0345 222 9955 or complete our Contact Form at the bottom of this page for a no obligation initial telephone assessment of your case.
Driving with Excess Alcohol
The offence of Drink Driving (Driving with Excess Alcohol) is committed if a person drives or attempts to drive a vehicle whilst over the legal limit. The offence is contained within Section 5(1)(a) of The Road Traffic Act 1988.
Drink Drive Legal Limit
A motorist will only face a prosecution for drink driving, if the proportion of alcohol in their body was over the legal limit, this can be measured in breath, blood or urine. When a person is arrested and taken to the Police Station, if the reading provided is below the legal limit, they will be released without charge.
The legal limits are:
|Level of Alcohol||England, Wales & Northern Ireland||Scotland|
|Micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath||35||22|
|Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood||80||50|
|Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine||107||67|
The Magistrates’ Court Hearing for Drink Driving
If you have been charged with drink driving, you will have received a Charge Sheet, Court Summons or Postal Requisition and this will contain details of the Court you should attend, along with the date and time. It is crucial that you attend Court on time otherwise, you could be convicted in your absence or a Court warrant could be issued for your arrest.
As soon as you are aware of when you are in Court, you should make arrangements to formally appoint an experienced driving offence lawyer to attend Court with you, this can in many circumstances improve your chances of avoiding a prison sentence.
When a Drink Driving matter appears in Court, the Magistrates’ or District Judge have a range of powers available to them when imposing a sentence. This includes:
- Imposing a driving ban of 12 – 60 months
- Imposing a 6-month prison sentence
- Imposing a fine of an unlimited amount
- Imposing a Community Order (unpaid work requirement)
Whether the Court decides to impose a jail sentence for drink driving will depend upon the individual circumstances of the offence and the level of alcohol recorded by the Police. The higher the reading of alcohol in breath, blood or urine, the higher the likelihood the Court may impose a prison sentence.
On deciding whether to send a person to jail for drink driving, the Court will take into consideration the level of alcohol recorded, whether there are any previous convictions for drink driving and the aggravating / mitigating factors of the offence and the offender.
If a Defendant facing sentence has previous similar convictions such as Failing to Provide a Specimen for Analysis or being Drunk in Charge, this will increase the likelihood of possibly receiving a prison sentence.
Aggravating features of the offence will also be taken into consideration, the more aggravating features present, the more serious the offence becomes and that increases the likelihood of the Court imposing a prison sentence.
Aggravating features usually include:
- The offence being committed whilst on bail
- Carrying passengers
- If you were involved in an accident
- Poor road or weather conditions
- Evidence of an unacceptable standard of driving
- High level of traffic or pedestrians in the vicinity
- Injuries caused to others
If you are facing a serious drink driving charge, you should consider appointing specialist legal representation in your corner so that you stand the best possible chance of avoiding a prison sentence. The Court takes a tough stance towards driving with excess alcohol and if the offence is serious and contains aggravating features, there is a risk of an immediate prison sentence being imposed when you attend Court.
Clients frequently instruct our solicitors and barristers to represent them in Courts throughout England and Wales to ‘mitigate’ on their behalf. This is when a person accepts, they are guilty but there are mitigating factors which the Court should be made aware of. Strong and compelling mitigation can often convince the Court to impose a Community Order of unpaid work as opposed to a prison sentence.
It is a misconception that attending Court without a lawyer in your corner will result in the Court being lenient, this is far from the truth and the reality is that if you attend Court and represent yourself you are attending Court grossly unprepared for what awaits.
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