A conviction for drink driving could lead to a six-month jail sentence, a fine of £5,000 and a driving ban of between 12-36 months.
Penalties change according to the seriousness of the offence.
The reason for the drink driving laws is to preserve your own safety and that of others. If you drive at twice the legal alcohol limit you are at least 30 times more likely to cause a crash than a driver who has not been drinking. Any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive.
It is also worth remembering that you may still be over the limit on the morning after a night out.
The following sets out the penalties you can expect if you are convicted of drink driving.
Causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs can lead to up to 14 years imprisonment, an unlimited fine, an obligatory two years minimum driving ban and 3-11 points on your licence.
Driving, or attempting to drive, while unfit through drink or drugs or with excess alcohol, or failing to provide a specimen for analysis, can lead to up to six months in prison, a fine of up to £5,000, obligatory disqualification from driving, and 3-11 points on your licence. For a first offence, disqualification will be for at least 12 months. For a second offence within ten years, disqualification will be for at least three years.
If you are caught in charge of a motor vehicle with excess alcohol in your system, or you are caught and then refuse to provide samples for analysis, you face a possible fine up to £2,500 and/or up to three months in prison. You may receive ten penalty points on your licence, and it is up to the discretion of the court whether or not to disqualify you.
Failing to provide a roadside breath test could lead to a fine of up to £1,000, four penalty points, and possible disqualification.
If disqualified from driving because of one of these offences, you must re-sit your driving test. The test may be an ordinary test or an extended test according to the nature of the offence.
A person disqualified for more than two years may, after two years, apply to the court to have the remaining period of disqualification removed. They must appear in person and must satisfy the court that they have committed no further road traffic offences during the two year ban, and that there is a good and adequate reason for the return of their licence. Possible reasons might include the chance of a new job, promotion, moving to a rural location, and proof of successful alcohol abuse treatment.
In calculating a suitable fine, the court is likely to take any aggravating factors or mitigating circumstances into account. The fine will also take account of disposable income, so the court may require details of your incoming and outgoings. The fine may be paid in staggered payments or at a later, specified date.
Community sentences may be imposed where a prison sentence is not mandatory, and convicted offenders may be recommended to attend a drink drive rehabilitation programme.
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