Experts in Motoring and Road Traffic Law
Drink Driving Solicitors
Based in London, MPR Solicitors have a wealth of high-level experience in defending drink driving offences. As a niche practice dealing almost exclusively with criminal and traffic offences, our team has an in-depth knowledge of traffic offences, which a more general legal practice may lack.
To contact our drink and drug driving solicitors, please call our office on 020 3824 8080 to make an appointment at our London office.
Our goal at MPR Solicitors is to provide the best defence for those clients in London and the UK who have been charged with a drink and drug driving offence, with an emphasis on quality of service and client care. We have a dedicated team of drink driving lawyers based in London. In addition to providing exceptional legal advice and representation, our team deliver the highest quality 24-hour police station representation available.
Is drink driving a criminal offence?
Under section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA 1988), drink driving is a criminal offence. If you drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle on a public road when you have over the legal limit of alcohol in your blood, breath or urine, you may be charged by the police.
If you have been charged with being ‘drunk in charge of a motor vehicle’, the prosecution must prove that you intended to drive a vehicle after having had too much to drink. The act of preparing to drive may not be sufficient. For example, in Mason v Director of Public Prosecutions, the court held that the act of opening a car door was not more than merely preparatory and therefore the defendant could not properly be convicted of drink driving charges.
What are the defences available for drink or dug driving?
There are several defences available for drink driving offences, and our solicitors are highly experienced in them all.
For example, the RTA 1988 provides that a defendant will not be guilty of the offence if he or she can prove (on the balance of probabilities) that at the time they were alleged to have committed the offence the circumstances were such that there was no possibility they could have been driving whilst the quantity of alcohol in their body surpassed the set limits.
There may also be a defence if you can show that at the time of the alleged offence you were under the drink driving limit, but you had consumed alcohol or additional alcohol just prior to the police doing a breath test. You must prove that you were under the legal limit at the time of driving. We can do this by obtaining expert evidence that shows what your alcohol levels would have been when you were driving.
A drink-driving charge may also be challenged on the grounds of procedural impropriety. For example, the police officer at the scene must warn you that failure to provide a breath, blood or urine specimen is an offence. They generally cannot ask you for a second sample if there was no problem with the first one obtained. Defences can also be constructed if there is doubt as to the reliability of the device used to obtain the specimen.
If you can prove you were not driving on a road or a public place, you may also be found not guilty of drink driving. Expert evidence can be obtained to prove that the place where you were driving the vehicle was not accessible to the public.
Special Reasons not to Disqualify
There may be ‘special reasons’ why in a particular case the court should not disqualify a driver even where they have been found to be drink driving. These may include:
- Genuine emergency
- Shortness of distance
- ‘Spiked’ Drinks’
We will be able to advise you on whether any of these might be applicable in your case.
What is the maximum penalty for drink or drug driving?
If convicted of drink driving, you are likely to be disqualified from driving for at least 12 months; you will obtain a criminal record, and it is likely your motor vehicle insurance premiums will be higher for at least five years. You may also struggle to find employment, especially if the role requires you operate a vehicle.
The penalty you receive will depend on the type of drink driving offence you have committed. An example of the relevant offences and their penalties are as follows:
Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink
This offence carries a penalty of up to three months imprisonment, a fine of £2,500 and you may be banned from driving for a period.
Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink or drugs
If convicted, you may receive a sentence of up to six months imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a driving ban of at least one year.
Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis
Such action carries a penalty of to six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a driving ban of at least one year.
Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs
Conviction of such an offence carries a penalty of 14 years imprisonment, an unlimited fine, a ban from driving for at least two years and you must undertake an extended driving test to get your licence back.
Can I be fired for drink or drug driving?
It depends. Your employer cannot dismiss you straight away; however, if you are using a company vehicle, they will have to alert the insurer. Although you can still drive whilst awaiting trial, your company’s insurance policy may state you cannot drive a vehicle insured under your organisation’s policy.
If you do not have to drive to perform your role, it is unlikely your employer can dismiss you without leaving themselves open to a claim in the Employment Tribunal. Even if driving is integral to your role and you receive a driving ban for drink driving, your employer risks a claim being brought if they fail to attempt to re-assign you to other duties and sack you instead.
If you do lose your job because of a drink-driving conviction, we can recommend an employment solicitor to advise you on your options. The most important step to take to protect your job if you drive for a living, is to instruct us as soon as you are charged with drink driving so we can start building a defence.
If you have been accused of drink or drug driving, please call us immediately on 020 3824 8080 or fill in our contact form to get in touch.