It is an offence to drive or even attempt to drive a motor vehicle on a public road or other public place whilst over the prescribed limit. The prescribed limits are as follows:
- Breath 35ug in 100ml of breath.
- Blood 80ug in 100ml of blood.
- Urine 107ug in 100ml of urine.
Furthermore it is an offence to be in charge of a motor vehicle whilst under the influence. For example if you are seated at the drivers seat with the ignition on listening to music. However it would be a defence if there was no likelihood that the person would drive.
It is certainly not the case that if the police say you are over the limit then you are. Frequently we have been successful at trial when we have shown that the police have not adopted the correct procedure.
There are also what we call “Special Reasons”. These are partial defences to drink driving.
Hip Flask Defence: This is when you have consumed the said amount of alcohol or a proportion of it after you have driven. We would instruct an expert, who we have used for many years, who will perform a back calculation to show if you were over the prescribed limit at the time of the offence.
Spiked drinks: Often people are amazed when they are found to be over the prescribed limit as “I only had the one”. We have found through our years of experience that often this is due to “friends” spiking their drinks. Again we would instruct an expert to compile a freport to show if the spiked element was the part that put you over the limit.
Medical Emergency: If you have no alternative but to drive due to someone needing to be taken to hospital then again you may have a defence.
Special reasons are only partial defences and if the Court find in your favour it simply gives it discretion not to disqualify.
Upon conviction and in the absence of special reasons a disqualification is mandatory. Its length is dependent upon the amount of alcohol in the system and if this is the first drink drive related offence. If you have a similar conviction within 10 years then it is a mandatory starting point of 3 year disqualification
Attached is a guide to the length of any disqualification depending on your level of intoxication. You should note that this is a guide for a first time offender with no aggravating features.
If you have a similar conviction within 10 years then there is a mandatory starting point of a 3 year disqualification.
Failing to provide a specimen of breath
If you refuse or do not provide a specimen of breath then you will be prosecuted regardless of whether you drove or not. All the police would need to show is that they had suspicions that you had or were going to drive.
The defences are very limited and only if you were physically incapable of providing a specimen due to a medical reason would you have a potential defence. If this is the case then it is imperative that you have mention this during the interview.
The starting point for this matter is an 18 month disqualification and can also attract a community order or even in some circumstances a custodial sentence.