The law

Drink Driving

What To Do If You Are Over The Limit

There are 3 main types of drink driving offences:

  1. Driving or attempting to drive a vehicle over the permitted limit or whilst unfit through drink or drugs
  2. Being in charge of a vehicle over the permitted limit
  3. Failing to provide a roadside test or an evidential specimen

If the police stop you and they suspect that you may have been drinking, you will be asked to take a screening roadside test. If this is positive or if you fail, for whatever reason, to give one, you will be arrested and taken to a police station where you will be required to provide a sample of breath to find out the precise amount of alcohol in your system.

You have no entitlement to legal advice before you provide evidential specimens – any delay can be taken as a refusal. The advice is to blow unless you think that your reading could be exceptionally high. You may be allowed a telephone call to a Solicitor of your choice or a Duty Solicitor at the discretion of the custody sergeant.

The legal limit in breath is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 ml of breath although you will not be prosecuted unless you reach 40 or more. The limit for blood is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. If you blow between 40 and 50 micrograms in breath, you will be entitled to ask for a blood or urine specimen to be taken to check the accuracy of the machine. You should always do this because a delay in taking this second sample can work in your favour as your body will be continuously metabolising alcohol.

If the evidential breath specimen is over the legal limit you will be charged there and then and bailed to attend Court. Alternatively, if an analysis of the blood or urine sample is necessary, then the sample will be sent off and you will be bailed to go back to the police station at a later date.

The law surrounding drink driving offences is complex and if ANY of the following situations apply, you should contact us immediately to see whether or not you have a potential defence or a “special reasons” argument as to why you should not be disqualified:-

You are in any doubt as to whether the police have acted properly and/or whether there has been some breach of a procedural requirement.

  1. You consumed any alcohol after you had ceased driving and before your arrest.
  2. You did not understand what was being asked of you at the police station
  3. You are on medication or suffer from any illness (e.g. diabetes) that could affect your breath or blood alcohol levels
  4. You were physically unable to provide a specimen (e.g. asthmatic or phobia of needles)
  5. You think the breath testing machine was not working properly
  6. Your drinks had been spiked or if you had been misled as to the type of drink or quantity that you thought you had consumed
  7. You drove for only a very short distance or because there was an emergency
  8. You were not given part of your blood or urine specimen
  9. The conduct of the police was such that you lost confidence in them
  10. You were not the driver of the vehicle

This list is not exhaustive and if you believe that you have a defence, you should seek expert professional advice.

If there is no viable defence or special reasons argument available, then you may have to consider a plea of Guilty. Again you should seek our help when you go to court. Effective mitigation can reduce both the period of disqualification that you face as well as any other penalty that the Court can impose. For lower readings, the disposal will normally be a fine with a minimum ban of 12 months.

If you are over 85 micrograms in breath, the magistrates will actively consider a Community Order which could involve unpaid work, supervision, curfew, or treatment if you suffer from an alcohol problem.

If the reading is over 115 micrograms, or if you have a history of drink driving, then the Court will actively consider prison as an option. If the court is persuaded that you are a suitable candidate for a drink drive awareness course, then your disqualification may be discounted by up to 25%.