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Is Drink Driving a Criminal Offence?

Drunk driving is a complicated subject and we hope to answer some common questions below.

Is Drunk Driving a Crime?

Under Section 5(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 drink driving is a criminal offence. Driving while exceeding the legal limit will result in a criminal record, a driving ban, an unlimited fine and in very serious cases a prison sentence. 

What is Drunk Driving By Law?

In England and Wales the legal alcohol limit for driving is:

  • 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath; or
  • 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood; or
  • 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine

When someone is guilty of any offence in a Magistrates’ court or a Crown Court, they have a criminal conviction. Not every criminal conviction will lead to a criminal record, but the rule is that an offence which could get a prison sentence goes on a criminal record.

You don’t have to have to go to prison for the conviction to go on your record. Drink driving is an imprisonable offence. The majority of people only get a fine for drink driving, but the conviction will still go on their criminal record.

Bear in mind that failure to provide a breath test is also an imprisonable offence.

How long do I have to declare a drink driving offence?

A drink driving endorsement will remain on your licence for a period of anything from 3 to 11 years from the date of conviction.

The exact time period drink driving related endorsements will remain on your driving licence will depend on the offence you are convicted of.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 allows certain convictions to become ‘spent‘ after a specified period of time. This is known as the rehabilitation period

In most circumstances, an individual who has spent convictions does not have to declare them to employers when applying for most jobs, insurers, etc. There are exceptions to this rule, whereby both spent and unspent convictions need to be disclosed. Those exceptions include:

  • Professions associated with the justice system such as solicitors, police, court clerk, probation officer, prison officer and traffic warden; 
  • Medical professions including dentists and chemists;
  • Accountants including managers of unit trusts;
  • Veterinarians; 
  • Managers of unit trusts; 
  • Employees of the RSPCA or SSPCA; 
  • Taxi drivers and other transport work.

For reference to the different drink driving offences, refer to the Direct Gov website.

Drink Driving Defence During Coronavirus

When you have been formally accused of a drink driving offence, you will be told by the police when your case is due to be heard in the Court. You must attend, or the Court can and normally will issue a warrant for your arrest.

At the time of writing, England is currently in its second lockdown for coronavirus. Wales has just come out of a ‘firebreak’ lockdown and the Courts are yet to catch up with the backlog of motoring offences.

Someone with expertise in defending motoring offences should be able to advise you of the strength of your case, so that you can decide what plea to enter. They will be able to advise on the Court process and what will happen next.

How to Contact Us

We’re here to help. Drink driving is a serious offence and it can be incredibly stressful to go through the Courts process.

Make sure you have the support of a representative you trust.

For help and advice, including police station representation, contact us at 01432 278179, or using our contact form below:

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