If you are charged with

Drunk In Charge

Drunk in charge of a motor vehicle

When the police cannot prove that you drove while drunk they may instead decide to charge you with being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. A conviction will result in either a driving ban or 10 penalty points, which may cause you to tot up to 12 or more points and be disqualified for at least six-months.

how to go about

Winning your trial

Because no driving is involved all the police have to do is prove that you were in charge of the vehicle while you were either unfit to drive or over the drink driving limit. That actually makes defending you easier. Here’s how we can go about it.

First, we look to see whether the police had the power to require you to provide in the first place. The police cannot simply demand specimens from anybody the like, they must be involved in a genuine investigation into an offence. If there is no reason to suspect you may have committed an offence, then it is likely that the requirement to provide will be unlawful and should therefore be excluded from evidence.

Once the police have established that they did have a power to require the specimen from you we can then look at whether they conducted the procedure to take that specimen properly. Where the specimen is of blood or urine we will also look at the handling of that specimen in the period between it being taken from you and it being tested at the police laboratory. This is called the chain of custody or continuity evidence. Often the continuity evidence will show breaks in the chain of custody that lead to valid concerns about what happened to the specimen in that period, e.g. was it stored properly etc, and even whether it is the same specimen or not. If the prosecution cannot show an unbroken chain of custody then it will raise concerns about the reliability of the evidence that you were over the limit. Once the specimen makes it to the prosecution lab there are a whole raft of things that can go wrong. Our panel of independent experts can examine the prosecution evidence and assess how reliable the prosecutions testing procedures were and thus whether the court should accept their results.

Leaving aside the potential for technical faults with the prosecution case, we should look at the “statutory defence”. There is a defence to being drunk in charge if there was no likelihood of your driving while you remained over the drink driving limit. There are a lot of factors to consider but broadly speaking if you can show you would not have driven the vehicle then yWhen the police cannot prove that you drove while drunk they may instead decide to charge you with being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. A conviction will result in either a driving ban or 10 penalty points, which may cause you to tot up to 12 or more points and be disqualified for at least six-months.ou will be acquitted. You can find examples of this sort of defence in the past cases section at the bottom of the page.


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

Starting point
Medium level community order
6 weeks in prison to low level community order
Disqualify for 6 to 12 months
207– 275mg
275– 366mg
Starting point
Fine – 150% of weekly income
Fine to medium level community order
Consider a ban of up to 6 months or 10 points
60 – 89ug
138– 206mg
184– 274mg
Starting point
Fine – 100% of weekly income
Fine of 150% weekly income to fine of 100% weekly income
Consider a ban or 10 points
36 – 59ug
81– 137mg
108– 183mg
Starting point
Fine – 100% of weekly income
Fine of 100% to 50% of weekly income
10 points

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.

You will usually receive a discount on the sentence for pleading guilty although that does not apply to the driving ban and the court cannot impose less than 10 points even if you do plead guilty. This often means that in practice there is little to be gained from a guilty plea except for a slight reduction in the fine. That said, if the court thinks you are on the cusp of an immediate ban or penalty points, a guilty plea may convince them to come down on the side of points rather than a ban. This is a difficult balancing exercise and you should call us on 020 8242 4440 to discuss your options.

Drink Driving Defence Success

Our recent cases

The Case: R v NM

Police were called to Ms M after she was seen getting into her car drunk by a neighbour. The police arrived and found her inside the car asleep with the ignition switched on. We argued that there was no offence as the place she was found was neither a road nor a public place and therefore it was impossible to commit a drink driving offence.

The Result: AQUITTED

The court agreed and Ms M was acquitted. Costs were awarded in her favour.

The Case: R v GD

Mr D had been accused of being over the drink driving limit while in charge of his car. We challenged the prosecution to produce evidence showing the continuity of his blood specimen and how it was tested at the police laboratory.


The prosecutor was unable to produce the evidence and was forced to discontinue the case on the morning of the trial. Costs were awarded to Mr D.

The Case: R v AI

Police were called after Mr I and his friend were seen getting into a car by a security guard who thought they were drunk. Police attended and found Mr I and his friend still inside the car. At court, we argued that there was no likelihood of Mr I driving while over the limit as they had a plan to walk home, which was confirmed by the friend. The court heard the evidence from the security guard, two police officers, Mr I and his witness.

The Result: AQUITTED

Mr I was acquitted and costs were ordered in his favour.