How to avoid a drink driving ban

If you have been caught drink driving, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. You may be worried about losing your driving licence, receiving a fine, or even going to prison.

If you have been caught drink driving, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. You may be worried about losing your driving licence, receiving a fine, or even going to prison.

However, there are ways to reduce the punishment you face or even avoid it altogether with the help of a criminal defence lawyer.

Two of the key ways your lawyer will seek to build a defence to a drink driving charge are by obtaining your personal mitigating factors and considering the case papers to ascertain whether any procedural errors have been made by the prosecuting authorities.

What are the Penalties for a Drink Driving Charge?

Penalties for drunk driving can be very severe. Convictions for drink driving attract a mandatory disqualification from driving with driving bans extending up to 3 years, even for a first-time offence.

Sentencing is very much based upon the breath, urine or blood alcohol reading obtained from you by the Police. The greater the reading, the more severe the sentence.

Sentences range between a low-level financial penalty right up to a prison sentence of 6 months.

Such punishments can be very worrying.  If you have been found to be over the limit, you may be wondering what your options are to minimise the impact it could have on your life.

What mitigating factors can be put forward in respect of a Drink Driving Charge?

There are some mitigating factors set out by the Sentencing Council, which include but aren’t limited to the following:-

  • A lack of previous convictions
  • Shortness of distance driven
  • The existence of a genuine emergency
  • The driver’s previous good character
  • Genuine remorse
  • The driver being unwillingly intoxicated (involuntary intoxication such a spiked drinks)
  • The driver being the sole carer for dependants
  • Serious medical conditions

An expert drink driving solicitor such as those at Draycott Browne in Manchester, will look at all the unique circumstances of your case and help you reach the best possible outcome.  This could be the difference between a short driving ban or a custodial sentence.

How Can I Defend a Drink Driving Charge?

When facing a drink driving charge, there are typically two options available:

  1. Pleading guilty and presenting mitigating factors to try and reduce the length of any mandatory disqualification – for instance by requesting that the defendant be offered the opportunity to go on a Drink Drive Rehabilitation Course, which if successfully completed, reduces the disqualification imposed by 25%.
  2. Pleading not guilty and going to trial. The field of law that deals with motoring offences is particularly complex, with many areas that are not black and white, so it is crucial to seek professional legal advice and representation in advance of attending at court.

Once the police have gathered sufficient evidence, such as conducting a breath test and obtaining witness statements, they may decide to charge a driver with drink driving. If there is adequate evidence and a likelihood of conviction, the police may initiate charges and require the driver to attend a hearing at the Magistrates’ Court.

Defending a drink driving charge requires a thorough understanding of the law and the legal procedures involved in these cases. It is important to examine all of the available evidence, including police statements and breathalyser results, to look for any flaws or inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case.

It may be possible to defend the charges based on a procedural error.  Strict protocols must be followed by the police during a breath test, and failure to adhere to them can result in a driver not being charged with drink driving, even if they were over the legal limit.

A skilled criminal defence lawyer can also use their knowledge of the law to argue against a driving ban or reduce the severity of the punishment. If you have a clean driving record and have never been in trouble with the law before, this may be used as a defence. In some cases, a plea bargain may be offered, which involves pleading guilty to a lesser offence in exchange for a more lenient punishment. By way of an example, an offer could be made to plead guilty to being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle as oppose to drink driving. This would mean that any disqualification was at the discretion of the Court rather than being a mandatory requirement.

Other strategies that a defence lawyer may use to build a case in a drink driving offence may include:

Challenging the reliability of the breathalyser test: Breathalyser tests are not infallible, and there are many factors that can impact their accuracy. A defence lawyer may be able to challenge the results of the test by demonstrating that the equipment was not calibrated properly or that the test was administered incorrectly.

Arguing that the driver was not actually in control of the vehicle: In some cases, a driver may be over the legal limit but not actually in control of the vehicle. For example, if they were parked or sleeping in the car, they may not have been driving or attempting to drive. A defence lawyer may be able to argue that the driver was not in control of the vehicle and therefore should not be charged with drink driving.

Presenting evidence of a medical condition: Certain medical conditions or the consumption of certain medications can result in a false positive on a breathalyser test. A defence lawyer may be able to present evidence of a medical condition that can explain the positive test result.

Negotiating a plea bargain: In some cases, a defence lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecution for a reduced sentence or lesser charge. This may be appropriate in cases where there is strong evidence of guilt, and the mitigating factors are limited.

Ultimately, the best strategy for a drink driving defence will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. An experienced criminal defence lawyer can review the evidence, identify the most effective defence strategy, and fight to protect the rights and interests of their client.

Can I Go to Prison for a Drink Driving Offence?

It is possible to go to prison for a drink driving offence, particularly if the person has a previous conviction for drink driving or if their driving caused an accident resulting in injury or death. However, in most cases, it’s unlikely you will be sentenced to prison time for drink driving, unless your circumstances include aggravating factors (such as having passengers, driving in highly trafficked areas, causing an accident or being a repeat offender).

It is more likely that you’ll face a driving ban, a fine, or both.

Do I Have to Provide a Specimen?

Under UK law, drivers suspected of drink driving must provide a specimen of breath, blood, or urine for analysis. If you refuse to take the test when asked, you might be committing a criminal offence. You will need to have a reasonable excuse to refuse. You may be facing a driving disqualification, a hefty fine, and even a custodial sentence up to 26 weeks if a court decides you had no justification to refuse the test.

However, if there are valid reasons for not providing a specimen, such as a medical condition, this may be used as a defence in court.

If you have been charged with drink driving, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A skilled criminal defence lawyer can help you to build a strong defence and minimise the impact of a drink driving charge on your life. With their help, you may be able to avoid a driving ban or receive a more lenient punishment.

Is Riding a Bike Drunk Illegal?

Technically, it is not illegal to ride a bike while drunk in the UK, as bicycles are not classified as motor vehicles. However, the offence of ‘cycling without due care and attention’ can be committed if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if your ability to control the bike is impaired. This offence is punishable by a fine and can result in points on your driving licence. If you cause an accident while cycling drunk, you could be charged with a more serious offence, such as ‘causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving’ or even ‘dangerous driving’.

Furthermore, while it may not be illegal to cycle while under the influence of alcohol, it is important to remember that you are putting yourself and others at risk. If you are involved in an accident while drunk cycling, you could be liable for any damages or injuries that result, and you may find it difficult to defend yourself against a claim for compensation.

Can I Use an E-scooter While Over the Limit?

No, it is illegal to use an e-scooter while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. E-scooters are classified as motor vehicles under UK law, and the same drink-driving laws apply as they do for cars and other motor vehicles. If you are caught riding an e-scooter while over the legal limit, you could face criminal charges, a driving ban, and a fine. Additionally, if you cause an accident while riding an e-scooter while drunk, you could be liable for any damages or injuries that result.

It is also worth noting that e-scooters are currently subject to strict regulations in the UK, and it is only legal to use them in certain areas and under certain conditions. For example, e-scooters can only be used on the road if they are part of a government-approved trial, and they must be rented from a licensed provider. If you are caught riding an e-scooter illegally, you could face fines and penalty points on your driving licence, as well as potential criminal charges if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Drink driving doesn’t have to equal a ban

Being caught driving or attempting to drive over the legal alcohol limit can be a very serious offence with severe consequences. However, there are options available for drivers in this situation, and it is crucial to seek legal advice from a qualified criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.

A driving ban is not mandatory for all drink driving offences. In certain cases, a defence lawyer can argue for a reduction in the length of the ban, or in some cases, for no ban at all.

This may be particularly relevant in situations where losing your licence would cause significant hardship, such as the inability to work or care for dependents.

Every case is unique, and a criminal defence lawyer will tailor their approach to the specific circumstances of the case. With their expertise and experience, they can help navigate the legal system, ensure your rights are protected, and present the most compelling case possible.

Author Bio:  Rob Mann is a Director of Draycott Browne Solicitors in Manchester.  He is a vastly experienced Solicitor and Higher Court Advocate. He regularly appears before the Crown Court and in recent years has specialised in the defence of serious cases including murder, armed robbery, drug importation and supply, high value fraud, money laundering, firearms offences and various conspiracies.