Christmas party season is upon us and, as ever, traditionally brings with it indulgence and, for some, over-indulgence, particularly in relation to increased alcohol intake. Despite yearly awareness campaigns, December is still one of the busiest months for drink driving incidents and arrests.
Perhaps there is a uncertainty or misconception about how much alcohol can be consumed to remain within the legal limit (35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, 80 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood or 107 milligrames per 100 millilitres of urine) as effect of alcohol varies from person to person.
However, the implications for a conviction for drink driving are stark – and this is without taking into account the risks to the driver, pedestrians and other road users that driving under the influence brings.
Drink driving is what is known as a “strict liability” offence and therefore you do not have to intend to be over the limit – it is sufficient if you are stopped by the police (and they have wide powers to do so) and provide two evidential breath specimens at the police station that are above the legal limit. Your driving doesn’t have to be influenced or impaired to be guilty of an offence and, of course, it is possible to be over the limit the day after a big night out.
Whilst there are defences and legal challenges available, a driver does not have the legal right to speak to a solicitor before providing a specimen and it is ill-advised to seek to rely on a technicality to avoid liability.
The best advice is to co-operate with the police and explain any “after the incident” alcohol consumption, as this will allow the police to calculate your level of alcohol at the time of driving. If you cannot provide a specimen for any reason (e.g. medical problems or phobias) explain these to the police as best you can.
Ultimately, if you plan to have a drink this Christmas, take all risk out of the equation by leaving your car safely parked and making alternative arrangements to get home.
So, is having the festive tipple before driving worth it? Is the price of a taxi worth being arrested? Is it worth being taken to the police station? Or having to go to court and receiving a criminal record? Is it worth losing your licence for at least a year? Finally, you should consider whether that drink is worth receiving an unlimited financial penalty, community order or even imprisonment for, and what that could mean to your family and/or job.
Our experienced team of expert lawyers are specialists in road traffic offences and will work with you on a private basis to establish whether you have a defence to any charge, or if the penalties could be reduced through mitigation.
To find out more, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org