Facing a drink or drug driving charge?

Facing a motoring prosecution can be a daunting prospect. We have the experience and technical expertise to help you challenge any conviction or charge made against you.

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What is drink and drug-driving?

Drink-driving is the crime of driving a vehicle with an excess of alcohol in your blood. Drug-driving is the criminal offence of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.

The most recent Department for Transport statistics estimate that 7,860 people were injured or killed in drink driving accidents in 2019.

In England and Wales, you are over the driving limit if you have more than 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood – that's 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath. In Scotland the limit has been reduced to 50 milligrams of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood (22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath).

If you are a male weighing 75 kilograms and you consume two pints of beer with an alcohol strength of 4% over the space of two hours, your blood alcohol content will be 0.04 per cent – under the legal limit in England and Wales, and just under in Scotland. However, a female weighing 60 kilograms who consumes the same amount over the same time period would be over the legal limit, with a blood alcohol content of 0.082 per cent.

The police use roadside swab saliva tests to determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs, and the legal limits for illegal drugs are very low. For example, if you are found to have two micrograms of THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) in a litre of blood, you will be charged.

The police test for cannabis, cocaine, ketamine, LSD, methamphetamine, MDMA and heroin, as well as prescription drugs such as valium and morphine. However, the permitted levels of prescription drugs are generally higher.

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What are the penalties for drink and drug-driving?

The penalties for drink-driving include driving bans and fines, and can even involve imprisonment, so it is vital that you act quickly in order to build a proper defence if you are charged.

Being in charge of a vehicle, such as being behind the wheel in possession of the car’s keys but not actually driving, while above the legal limit or unfit through drink carries a fine of up to £2,500, a possible driving ban, and three months imprisonment.

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink carries a penalty of an unlimited fine, up to 6 months in prison, a driving ban of at least one year – or three years if convicted twice in 10 years.

Refusing to provide a specimen can also result in an unlimited fine, 6 months imprisonment and a driving ban of at least a year.

The offence of drug-driving carries a minimum penalty of a one-year driving ban, and if you are convicted you will also receive an unlimited fine and up to 6 months in prison. A drug-driving conviction can make it very difficult to get car insurance, and your driving licence would show any drug-driving conviction for 11 years.

Professional drivers, such as taxi and lorry drivers, are subject to background checks upon taking a job, and a drug-driving conviction would show up in a basic disclosure of unspent convictions for 11 years.

If you are a professional driver, whether or not you are obliged to tell your employer of any new convictions depends on the contract of employment. Some employers insist on being notified of any new drink or drug-driving convictions.

If you cause death by driving while under the influence, you will face much more serious charges.

How can I defend myself against a drink or drug-driving charge?

Facing a motoring prosecution can be a daunting prospect. We have the experience and technical expertise to help you challenge convictions or charges made against you.

If you have been stopped by the police on suspicion of drink or drug-driving, First4Lawyers can match you to one of our specialist lawyers.

It is vitally important to seek legal advice from an experienced motoring solicitor as soon as possible. The earlier we can start to gather information about your case, the stronger your defence will be.

I’ve been stopped by the police on suspicion of drink or drug driving. What should I do?

Contact First4Lawyers for all the information you need about your legal rights, and for guidance on the next steps to take in building a defence.

Our team of expert drink and drug-driving solicitors is ready to help you.

We offer free initial consultations to enable us to fully understand your situation and identify the key issues. We carry out a thorough review of your case in order to identify any potential defences or arguments that can be put forward as mitigation.

Our solicitors provide representation throughout proceedings from the moment you are notified of an offence until the conclusion of your case. Just call us or fill in our online enquiry form and we'll give you a call at a time to suit you.

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