What Are The Different Types of Drink Driving Offences in the UK?

by Paul on November 19, 2012

Almost everybody knows someone who has been arrested for drink driving. In a society where drinking is a widely accepted social practice and pubs and clubs are open 24 hours a day, it is all too easy to make a mistake and end up in front of the magistrates. If you want to know how to protect yourself from a drink driving conviction, read on for some helpful hints.

What is The Limit?

In the UK, it is permissible to have blood alcohol levels of up to 80mg per 100ml. This is noticeably higher than the limit in many European countries, but how many drinks does it translate to? The answer is: it depends. The number of units required to take you over the limit varies so widely depending on gender, weight, timescale, food eaten etc. that it would be irresponsible to recommend any set number of drinks. It is always safest to refrain totally from drinking alcohol if you will need to drive afterwards.

Driving With Excess Alcohol

This is the most well known of the drink driving offences, and means that a Government-approved testing device has shown that you were driving whilst over the limit. It should be noted that the breathalyser used by police at the roadside is not an approved device. In fact, a positive roadside test merely allows the officer to arrest you so that you may provide a specimen for an approved device at the police station. If found guilty, you could face imprisonment, a £5000 fine or a driving ban.

Failure to Provide a Specimen

This offence is committed when a driver refuses to provide a blood, breath or urine sample for testing. In such a case, they will not be forced to do so. Instead, they will be charged with this offence. This situation should be avoided, as often courts will assume that the driver refused to give a specimen because they knew that they were well over the limit. This can mean that even someone who was only slightly over the limit might receive a harsh punishment. The possible consequences are the same as those for driving with excess alcohol.

Driving While Unfit Through Drink or Drugs

This offence almost is identical to that of driving with excess alcohol. The difference is that here, if a specimen could not be obtained for some reason, the Crown Prosecution Service will attempt to prove that a driver is culpable by referring to the testimony of an expert; usually a police officer or doctor.

Being Drunk in Charge of a Vehicle

This offence is the subject of various urban myths. In essence, it is a crime to be in or around your vehicle whilst intoxicated. Crucially, however, it should be shown that you actually intended to drive whilst over the limit. Possible penalties include a short term of imprisonment, £2500 fine or a driving ban.

Author Bio: James Crossley is a lawyer employed by a firm of specialist motoring solicitors. In his spare time, he enjoys blogging about crime and justice.

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