Drink Driving

In almost all cases, if you are convicted of an offence relating to driving whilst over the legal blood/alcohol limit the court will disqualify you from driving for at least twelve months.

It is important to realise that in cases of this nature the court will not take into account your personal circumstances when imposing the ban. It is also important to realise that twelve months is the shortest period of disqualification the court must impose. Many bans are for longer periods. As a rough rule of thumb, the more you exceed the limit the longer the ban is likely to be.

Disqualifications are also imposed as a matter of course on those drivers who, without good reason, fail to provide a specimen of breath or blood for analysis.


Can I go to prison for drink driving?

Up to 6 months imprisonment can be imposed for this offence although this is only likely in the most serious of cases. The vast majority of cases are dealt with by way of a fine.

Is Legal aid available?

Possibly. Legal aid may be granted if the circumstances of the case involve an unusual feature or if you intend to plead Not Guilty to the charge. Please contact us and we will advise whether legal Aid is likely to be granted in your case.

Is it possible to be found Not Guilty in a drink drive case?

Yes – the court will always find a defendant Not Guilty of any charge that the prosecution cannot prove. For instance, the court will acquit a defendant if the prosecution cannot prove that he drove the vehicle in question or if there turns out to have been a significant defect in the way the police dealt with the matter.

I was over the limit when I took the breath test but I think that may be because I drank some alcohol after I had finished driving. Is this a defence?

It might be. The burden will be on you to show the court that you would not have been over the limit whilst you were driving. It is very unlikely that the court will simply accept your word for this. In cases such as yours we commission expert evidence from a forensic scientist, hopefully to demonstrate by way of what is called a back calculation that what you are saying is consistent with the facts of the case and that if so you would have been under the limit. Legal Aid is often available in such cases.

I think someone may have spiked my drinks. Is this a defence?

Strictly speaking no. However, this might be one of those rare cases where the court might be persuaded that what is known as a “Special Reason” exists, in which case it does not necessarily have to ban you from driving. To establish this we will have to show that you were genuinely misled about the nature of what you were drinking and that without the drink being laced you would not have been over the limit. Legal Aid might be available in such a case.

Are there any cases where it is possible to avoid a ban?

These are very rare. The defendant’s personal circumstances will never be treated as relevant no matter what effect a driving ban might have upon him or his family.

However, the court has a discretion not to ban a driver in any case where the defence prove that a “Special Reason” exists. In broad terms a Special Reason is a strongly mitigating factor connected to the circumstances of the offence (but not the circumstances of the offender). Examples include cases where unbeknown to the driver his drinks have been laced, cases involving moving a vehicle over a very short distance and cases involving defendants who drove because doing so was the only possible way of dealing with a genuine emergency.

Each case turns on its own facts and we will advise you of the chances of success. Legal Aid may be available in such cases.

I suffer from respiratory problems and couldn’t provide a breath sample. Do I have a defence?

Unless you can show the court you had good reason for not providing the sample, it will simply deal with you as a drink driver. However, if you were genuinely unable to provide a sample for medical reasons then you may put this forward as a defence to the charge. You will probably need to provide medical evidence and Legal Aid might be available to you.

I refused to provide a breath sample because I hadn’t been drinking. I have been charged with failing to provide a specimen. Do I have a defence?

There may be facts about your case that could lead to a defence but you cannot simply rely on the fact that you hadn’t been drinking.

I refused to provide a specimen because it wasn’t me driving. Do I have a defence?

Strictly speaking, no, so long as the police can establish that they had good cause to ask for the sample in the first place. Even if the court is satisfied you were not the driver it must, nonetheless, either ban you from driving or give you 10 penalty points.

The police found me asleep in my car and I was over the limit. Will I get a driving ban?

On the face of it you appear to have committed the offence of being drunk in charge of a vehicle. If you were to be convicted the court may disqualify you if it so chooses but unlike a drink driving charge it is not compelled to do so. If the court does not impose a ban it will usually impose 10 penalty points instead.

It is important to note that if you can prove that there was in fact no likelihood of your driving the vehicle while over the limit then you have a defence to the charge.

If I don’t get Legal Aid how much will it cost me to be represented at court?

This will depend on the precise nature of your case and we will be happy to give you a quote. Perhaps the better question, given the pitfalls involved in cases of this nature, is how much will it cost you in the long term if you are not represented?