If you are charged with

Drink Driving

Drink Driving

Drink driving covers two offences that can be committed either by being over the drink driving limit or by being unfit to drive. Your charge sheet should tell you which you have been charged with but broadly speaking if you gave a breath, blood or urine sample then you’ve probably been charged with driving with excess alcohol. If there was no testing conducted, or the test failed for some reason, then you’ve probably been charged with driving while unfit through drink or drugs.

Drink driving covers two offences that can be committed either by being over the drink driving limit or by being unfit to drive. Your charge sheet should tell you which you have been charged with but broadly speaking if you gave a breath, blood or urine sample then you’ve probably been charged with driving with excess alcohol. If there was no testing conducted, or the test failed for some reason, then you’ve probably been charged with driving while unfit through drink or drugs.

Winning Your Trial

All cases are different so the plan of attack will depend on the facts of your case and whether you are charged with being over the limit or unfit to drive. Take a look at the pages for each offence for more detailed information on each offence.

With both types of offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were driving on a road or in a public place and that can get quite complicated. Where the police have not seen you driving or there is a question mark over who in the car was driving then attacking on this front can bring rich rewards. If the prosecution cannot prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that you were the driver then the court cannot convict you.

Excess alcohol and driving while unfit also have defences specific to them.

Excess Alcohol

A conviction for excess alcohol needs evidence from a breath, blood or urine test to show that you were over the drink driving limit at the time you drove. So, the first thing to check is whether the testing has been conducted correctly. If the police make mistakes during the taking of the specimen from you then they may not be able to rely on the result of the test.

Once they do have an alcohol reading, we can look to see whether it is reliable. With a breath test we need to examine the print out from the evidential breath machine to confirm it has performed correctly. With blood and urine tests we will instruct a toxicologist to examine the work undertaken by the laboratory that conducted the testing to check that they have done their jobs properly. There are a lot of things that can go wrong from incorrect storage of the specimen through to errors in the laboratory that will undermine the results. For example, scientists at Randox Testing Services were found to have manipulated the results of over ten thousand tests in a way that only examination by an independent toxicologist could spot. If the court cannot be sure that the result of the alcohol test is reliable then the judge must acquit you.

Unfit to Drive

The police do not need to present any evidence that you were over the drink (or drug) driving limit to secure a conviction, in fact it’s quite possible to be convicted of this offence after an alcohol test finds you below the limit! All that is required for a conviction is for the police to convince the court that you were unfit to drive because of some alcohol or drug that you took.

The defence is therefore that you were fit to drive – or at least that the prosecution cannot prove that you were unfit. We can instruct a medical doctor to assess the evidence, particularly medical evidence, and given an opinion on whether you would be fit to drive. In addition, we would attack the police officer’s credibility by arguing that he or she is not qualified to say whether somebody is unfit and whether that unfitness results from alcohol, drugs or from some other cause such as an ongoing medical condition.

Sentencing

When passing sentence, the courts must be guided by the Sentencing Council’s Guidelines. This sets out starting points and ranges for sentences based on the alcohol level proved by the prosecution; however, the court can go outside of these ranges in exceptional cases.

The good news though is that unlike with the main drink driving offences, the court is not required to disqualify you from driving, although they can choose to do so anyway. But, if you are not banned the court must impose ten-penalty points, which means you will be disqualified for at least six-months if that means you reach 12 or more penalty-points. If you are in that situation then we can still help you either by arguing that you should receive an immediate, but much shorter, disqualification or by arguing that banning you would cause exceptional hardship. A successful an exceptional hardship argument would allow you to continue driving with more than 12 points on your licence.

Measured alcohol levels

Breath
Blood
Urine
36 – 59ug
81 – 137mg
108 – 183mg
Starting point
Fine – 150% of weekly income
Range
Fine of 100% to 150% of income
Disqualification
12 – 16 months
2nd offence in 10 years
36 – 40 month
60-89ug
138– 206mg
184– 274mg
Starting point
Fine – 150% of weekly income
Range
Fine of 150% weekly income – Low level community order
Disqualification
17 – 22 months
2nd offence in 10 years
36 – 46 months
90-120ug
207-275mg
275-366mg
Starting point
Medium level community order
Range
Low level community order – High level community order
Disqualification
23 – 28 months
2nd offence in 10 years
36 – 52 months
120+ug
276+mg
367+mg
Starting point
12 weeks custody
Range
High level community order - 26 weeks custody
Disqualification
29-36 months
2nd offence in 10 years
36-60 months

How it works

The court will look at the starting point relevant to your alcohol level then consider anything that makes the offence more serious and any mitigation put forward by your solicitor to decide whether to move up or down the range available to them. In extreme cases, the judge may move outside of the sentencing range altogether.

We always consider whether you have a special reason that would allow you to avoid the driving ban altogether. Special reasons must relate to the offence. The three most common special reasons are: my drink was laced with alcohol, I was responding to an emergency and the distance I drove was so short there was no danger to other people.

You will normally receive a reduction in sentence if you plead guilty; however, that cannot help you avoid the driving ban nor do you receive a reduced ban for pleading guilty.

We will always ask the court to allow you to take the drink driving awareness course. If you complete the course by the deadline the court gives you then your driving ban will be reduced by 25%. You can find more information about the drink driving course providers, where courses are held and book a course here.

Drink Driving Defence Success

Our recent cases

The Case: R v JMM

JMM's drink was spiked by a friend in a bar. He was caught driving by police and charged with drink driving. His family instructed us to help JMM avoid the consequences of his friend's actions. Read more here.

The Result: Driving licence saved

The court found there was a special reason for not disqualifying JMM from driving. The judge imposed an absolute discharge and refused to endorse JMM's driving licence meaning that the conviction will never show up on his driving record or when he applies for jobs in the future.

It all happened just like you said it would. I didn’t really believe we’d win but you handled the case so brilliantly I’m over the Moon.

The Case: R v CW

CW instructed us that the police had not conducted the breath test procedure correctly in that they had failed to give him the statutory warning. The police officer could not attend trial and the prosecutor tried to rely on a video showing the breath test procedure being conducted correctly.

The Result: ACQUITTED

We successfully prevented the CCTV going into evidence on the ground that the prosecutor had failed to comply with the law on evidence.

The Crown dropped the case and CW was able to recover his legal costs from them.

The Case: R v BV

BV and his friend were both seen drink driving and swapping seats by an independent witness.

The Result: Driving licence saved

We successfully argued that BV drove such a short distance that he should not be disqualified from driving.

Thank you so much for all your help. I cannot believe we got such a great result.

The Case: R v SAID

I thought I had no chance; then I contacted Nick of London Drink Driving Solicitor. From the moment I contacted Nick, he has shown his expertise and professionalism when dealing with my case and told me I did have a chance when everyone else (including my friends) thought it was 'done and dusted'. Nick asked for all the evidence, queried everything the prosecution said they had and… the CPS dropped all charges. I cannot thank Nick enough for his dedication and professionalism which has not only saved me a potentially huge fine but also saved my license and stopped me from having a criminal conviction. I am now back in my car and enjoying every second of it.

The Case: R v SS

Police attended a crash and arrested SS who they charged with drink driving. He was originally represented by another solicitor but was unhappy with their performance.

The Result: CASE DROPPED

We took over and were able to persuade the prosecutor to drop the case. Costs were awarded against the prosecutor to SS.

The Case: R v MP

Police were called by a neighbour with an axe to grind against MP. The neighbour claimed that MP had been drink driving and that he had crashed into their car. They made a substantial claim to their insurers that their car had been seriously damaged in the incident. Through cross-examination we were able to show that the neighbours were both lying and MP had consumed alcohol after he got home where other neighbours were having a BBQ.

The Result: WIN

The neighbours were subsequently reported to the police by the insurance company for fraud following the acquittal. A costs order was made in MP’s favour.