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In this “Quick Guide” we will take you through the law, the penalties and the defence for the offence of Drink Driving (otherwise known as Driving while under the influence of alcohol) in England and Wales.

The offence of Drink Driving is contained within Section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and makes it a criminal offence for a person to:

    • Drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in the person’s breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit.

What are the penalties for Drink Driving ?

If a person enters a guilty plea or is found guilty of drink driving after a trial the Court must impose a driving disqualification of at least 12 months.

The court can:

  • Impose a driving ban between 12 and 36 months
  • If the Defendant has a previous drink driving conviction within the last 10 years, the Court will impose a driving ban between 36 and 60 months
  • Impose a prison sentence of up to 6 months
  • Impose a fine
  • Impose a Community Order, which is usually an unpaid work requirement

Sentencing Guidelines for Drink Driving

Note:When considering the guidance regarding the length of disqualification in the case of a second offence, the period to be imposed in any individual case will depend on an assessment of all the relevant circumstances, including the length of time since the earlier ban was imposed and the gravity of the current offence but disqualification must be for at least three years.

Level of Alcohol by Breath (μg)

Level of Alcohol - Breath (mg)
120–150 and above
90 – 119
60 – 89
36 – 59
Starting Point
12 weeks’ custody
Medium level community order
Band C Fine
Band C Fine
Range
High level community order – 26 weeks’ custody
Low level community order – High level community order
Band C Fine – Low level community order
Band B Fine – Band C fine
Driving Ban
29 – 36 months (Extend if imposing immediate custody)
23 – 28 months
17 – 22 months
12 – 16 months
Disqual. 2nd offence in 10 years – see note above
36 – 60 months
36 – 52 months
36 – 46 months
36 – 40 months

Level of Alcohol by Blood (mg)

Level of Alcohol - Blood (mg)
276 – 345 and above
207 – 275
138 – 206
81 - 137
Starting Point
12 weeks’ custody
Medium level community order
Band C Fine
Band C Fine
Range
High level community order – 26 weeks’ custody
Low level community order – High level community order
Band C Fine – Low level community order
Band B Fine – Band C fine
Driving Ban
29 – 36 months (Extend if imposing immediate custody)
23 – 28 months
17 – 22 months12 – 16 months
Disqual. 2nd offence in 10 years – see note above
36 – 60 months
36 – 52 months
36 – 46 months
36 – 40 months

Level of Alcohol by Urine (mg)

Level of Alcohol - Urine (mg)
138 – 206
275 – 366
184 – 274
108 – 183
Starting Point
12 weeks’ custody
Medium level community order
Band C Fine
Band C Fine
Range
High level community order – 26 weeks’ custody
Low level community order – High level community order
Band C Fine – Low level community order
Band B Fine – Band C fine
Driving Ban
29 – 36 months (Extend if imposing immediate custody)
23 – 28 months
17 – 22 months
12 – 16 months
Disqual. 2nd offence in 10 years – see note above
36 – 60 months
36 – 52 months
36 – 46 months
36 – 40 months

When will I require legal representation?

In all cases involving Drink Driving, a person would benefit from expert legal advice and representation at the Magistrates’ Court.

Things our solicitors look out for in Drink Driving Cases

  • Whether the Prosecution can prove that you were driving
  • Whether the Prosecution can prove that you were attempting to drive
  • Whether the Police completed the procedure correctly at the Police Station
  • The amount of alcohol consumed
  • The aggravating factors of the case
  • The mitigating factors of the case
  • Whether there is a risk of a prison sentence

Do you require a solicitor for a Drink Driving offence?

If you have just read our quick guide to drink driving you should have an idea by now whether you require legal representation for your drink driving offence. If you feel you do require legal advice and representation please not hesitate to contact us by calling 0345 222 9955 or by filling out our contact form.

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