Tag Archives: drink driving

Drink Driving – the reality

Many people have an image of a typical drink driver. Perhaps the image is of an overweight man, staggering from the pub after an all-day session and getting into his car. A few minutes later that car being pulled over by police officers due to erratic driving.

Although that is sometime the story behind a drink driving case. it is not the most common one that we see. It is more likely to be similar to Sue’s story.

drink driving

Sue leaves the party, sensibly gets into a taxi and later catches a few hours sleep before the next workday begins.

She feels a little tired but otherwise perfectly fine. Sue embarks on a leisurely drive along a familiar route until out of nowhere a car appears. Her journey is broken by the sound of scraping bumpers and an angry motorist demanding insurance details. A miserable start to her day!

On the plus side, nobody is hurt, it’s a simple insurance job.

That is until the traffic chaos catches the attention of a passing patrol car.

drink driving offences

Sue’s nightmare is about to begin

Ten minutes later Sue is in handcuffs on her way to a police station. Eight hours later she is charged with drink driving. Two days later she has been banned from driving for 18 months and shamed in the local paper.

A vast number of people find themselves before the court as a result of the ‘morning after’ effects of alcohol consumption. Whilst we can make assumptions about the average time it might take for alcohol to leave our system, these are rarely accurate in real life. The drink drive limit is quite low, so there is little margin for error. Even quite moderate alcohol consumption in the evening can leave you over the legal limit the morning after.

Otherwise sensible, law-abiding and hardworking people find themselves before a court facing not only a loss of licence but sometimes a loss of employment as well.

driving disqualification

How we can help

We would sooner not see you at all, but if you do face court proceedings, do not confront them alone. We all make mistakes.

Contact your nearest office here.

Alternatively you can use the contact form below.


New machines target drink drivers with roadside breath tests

The government has announced its intention to use new breathalysers to administer roadside breath tests.  This move could see a further 6,000 convictions per year for those who drink and drive.

roadside breath tests

Roadside breath tests followed by evidential tests

At the moment, breath test procedures are in two stages.  Those who test positive during roadside breath tests will be arrested and taken to a police station.   This is for a further test to be administered.  The second test is known as the ‘evidential test’.  It is the result of this test that forms the basis of any prosecution decision.

The gap in time between the first positive roadside breath tests and the ones administered at the police station may be significant enough to ensure that a person blows a negative reading.   This would be due to falling alcohol levels over time.  In some cases, however, the reverse can also happen.

Although the law permits ‘back calculations’ to be undertaken,  the evidence base is such that they are seldom used by the prosecution in this scenario.  As a result it has been argued that some drink drivers go free.

roadside breath tests

The legislation providing a procedure for definitive evidential roadside breath tests is already in place.  In June 2018 the government has announced a competition aimed at device manufacturers, with the aim of ensuring that suitable devices are approved and in use for roadside breath tests by 2020.

Around 460 000 breath tests are conducted each year.  Approximately 59 000 people providing a positive reading.

Approximately 6 000 people provide a positive reading at the roadside but are later found to be under the limit when tested at the police station.  This change will see those people prosecuted.

In many instances these will be people who have ‘gambled’ on a quick lunchtime drink or have not allowed quite enough time to sober up from the night before.

roadside breath tests

The changes will also reduce the scope for so-called ‘loophole defences’.  These have been made popular due to the complexities of the police station procedure. It is expected that decades of case law will become redundant once the new devices are being used.

Experience does, however, tell us that legal challenges will continue to be developed even when other avenues of law are closed to suspects and defendants.

The penalties for drink driving are severe.  There are minimum periods of disqualification.  These can be combined with high financial penalties and punishing insurance premiums for many years to come.  Prison sentences will be imposed in the most extreme cases.  As a result, many offenders face the loss of employment.

How can we assist?

Our motoring solicitors are experts in all aspects of drink and drug driving law. This is one of the most complex areas of criminal law.  Early advice should be sought to ensure that you achieve the best outcome in your case.

In some recent cases we have successfully argued a medical defence to failing to provide a specimen, argued special reasons to avoid a disqualification from driving   and conducted  a trial securing a not guilty verdict for our client facing drug driving charges.

In some case, such as this one, our clients accept that they are guilty but wish to mitigate the usual effect of a conviction, such as a disqualification.

We have expert road traffic lawyers at our six offices across the East Midlands.  Find your nearest office here.  Alternatively you can use the contact form below.



Drink driving convictions and high-risk offenders

High-Risk Offenders – The Hidden Peril of Drink Driving

Many people convicted of drink driving leave court with a pretty clear idea as to the length of their driving disqualification, but for a significant number, there is a shock further down the line.

drink driving high risk offenders

Contrary to popular belief, there is no ‘right’ to hold a driving licence, merely by having passed a driving test, and not otherwise be disqualified. The Secretary of State for Transport has the right, where the circumstances justify it, to withhold a licence. One of the circumstances where this arises if after a drink drive conviction if the offender is deemed ‘high-risk’.

What is a high-risk offender?

The high-risk offender scheme applies to drivers convicted of the following:

  • one disqualification for driving or being in charge of a vehicle when the level of alcohol in the body equalled or exceeded either one of these measures:

87.5 mcg per 100 ml of breath
200.0 mg per 100 ml of blood
267.5 mg per 100 ml of urine

  • two disqualifications within the space of 10 years for drink-driving or being in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
  • one disqualification for refusing or failing to supply a specimen for alcohol analysis
  • one disqualification for refusing to give permission for a laboratory test of a specimen of blood for alcohol analysis.

If I fall into one of those categories, what does it mean?

It means that at the end of your disqualification period, your licence will not be returned.

How do I get my licence back?

There will need to be a medical assessment of your suitability to hold a driving licence; this will consist of:

  • questionnaire
  • serum CDT assay
  • any further testing indicated.

If a licence is awarded, the ’til 70 licence is restored for Group 1 car and motorcycle driving. Consideration may be given to a Group 2 licence.

drink driving high risk offenders licence returnIf a high-risk offender has a previous history of alcohol dependence or persistent misuse but has satisfactory examination and blood tests, a short period licence is issued for ordinary and vocational entitlement but is dependent on their ability to meet the standards as specified.

A high-risk offender found to have a current history of alcohol misuse or dependence and/or unexplained abnormal blood test results will have the application refused.

What does this mean in practice?

You need, if you are regularly consuming large quantities of alcohol (which may be much less than you believe it to be), to reduce your intake significantly, otherwise, this pattern of alcohol abuse will reveal itself when the blood sample is analysed (for liver function markers).

I wish I had been told this at the time?

Unfortunately, our experience shows that clients are not advised of this hidden consequence of drink driving.

Is there any appeal mechanism?

Fortunately, yes there is. We have a dedicated team of road traffic experts ready and able to assist you with any drink driving query.

If you would like further advice about this topic, then please contact one of the solicitors at your local office or use the form below.



Drink driving sentence at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

drink driving sentence nottingham motoring solicitor
Nottingham and Newark crime solicitor Lauren Manuel

Nottingham and Newark crime solicitor Lauren Manuel recently represented a client appearing before Nottingham Magistrates’ Court for drink driving.  Her mitigation meant that he avoid an immediate prison sentence even though his reading was over four times the legal limit.

Lauren represented her client under an affordable fixed fee agreement.

Drink driving – over four times the legal limit

The client was driving his motor vehicle in Nottingham during rush hour.    A witness saw the client drive wide around a bend crossing the central line.  He tried to correct the vehicle.  The car then headed towards a kerb and he lost control of the car.  It hit a telegraph pole with enough force so that it caused the pole to be sheared off.  It fell into the path of oncoming traffic.

Lauren’s client then attempted to get out of the vehicle and leave the scene.  Instead he was detained by members of the public.  He cooperated with the police when they asked for a specimen of breath.  Unfortunately it was over four times the limit.  The offence was further aggravated as he had neither insurance cover or a valid driving licence.

Mitigation avoids immediate prison sentence

Such a high reading in combination with the aggravating circumstances would normally result in an unavoidable and immediate prison sentence.   Instead, Lauren was able to use her experience and persuasive advocacy to ensure that the Magistrates felt able to impose a suspended sentence instead.

Lauren identified that she would be able to put compelling personal mitigation before the court so that prison could be avoided.  She was able to demonstrate to the Magistrates that her client needed assistance.  Of late he had found himself in extremely difficult circumstances.  Prior to those arising, and this incident, he had been a man of good character.  He had no previous convictions or cautions.

As a result, the court was able to balance her client’s personal mitigation and credit for his guilty pleas against the very serious aggravating features of the offence.

Although he was to be punished, that punishment was a suspended sentence.  He was to undergo rehabilitation and address his alcohol misuse.  He was, of course, disqualified from driving for a lengthy period.

Affordable Fixed Fee Representation

Although Lauren’s client was not financially eligible to receive free legal aid, she was able to offer him representation by way of an affordable fixed fee.

Contact a motoring law solicitor

Whether you are admitting an offence or intend to contest an allegation such as drink driving you will benefit from seeking expert advice and representation.  If you wish to speak to Lauren then please contact her on 0115 9599550.  Alternatively you can use the following contact form: