Drink driving

Drink Driving - Alcohol and the law

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Drink driving

8,620 road accidents in 2008 happened when a driver was over the legal limit for alcohol. 2,020 people were killed or seriously injured as a result.

  • Drink driving does not just happen at christmas
  • It is often more common in the summer
  • Alcohol stays in the system even 24 hrs after your last drink

While these figures are high, accidents involving drink driving have decreased hugely over the last 30 years. Deaths and serious injuries related to drink driving have fallen by over three-quarters since 1980.

The drink drive legal limit

The legal alcohol limit for drivers in Great Britain is:

  • 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath
  • 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
  • 107 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine

Any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive

Even a single drink affects your driving performance. If you drive after drinking, you'll:

  • be less alert and careful, however slowly you drive
  • have trouble judging your speed
  • be slower to react to hazards and it will take you longer to stop

How much can I drink and stay under the limit?

There is no foolproof way of drinking and staying under the limit. The amount of alcohol you would need to drink to be considered drink driving varies from person to person. It depends on:

  • Your weight
  • Your gender (men tend to process alcohol faster than women)
  • Your metabolism
  • Your current stress levels
  •  Whether you’ve eaten recently
  • Age (younger people tend to process alcohol more slowly)

Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive so the only safe advice is to avoid any alcohol if you are driving.

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How would I be tested for drink driving?

Even small amounts  of alcohol affect your ability to drive and the only safe advice is to avoid any alcohol if  you are driving

If the police want to investigate whether you are over the drink driving limit, they will carry out a screening breath test at the roadside. 

If you fail this test, or if they have other grounds for believing you were driving impaired through drink, you will be arrested and taken to a police station.

At the station you will be required to provide two breath specimens into an evidential breath testing instrument. The lower of the two readings will be used to decide whether you are above the drink driving limit.

If the evidential breath sample is up to 40% over the limit you have the right to replace your evidential breath specimen with blood or urine. The police officer will decide which it will be. If your evidential samples show that you are over the limit, you will be charged.

The police can carry out a breathalyser test if you have committed a moving traffic offence, or been involved in an accident, or have given the police grounds to believe you are over the prescribed limit.

The police are allowed to stop any vehicle at their discretion, and will often set up drink driving check points over periods such as Christmas and New Years Eve.

What’s the punishment if I get caught drink driving?

Anyone caught drink driving will be banned from the road for at least 12 months, and fined up to £5,000. You can also be sent to prison for up to six months. Imprisonment, the period of disqualification and size of fine depend on the seriousness of the offence. (

If you’re caught drink driving more than once in a 10 year period, you’ll be banned for at least three years.

 

 Offence     Jail Time      Fine             Driving Ban     Minimum Points  Code on Licence

Driving or attempting to drive while unfit
6 months
£5,000
Obligatory
3-11*
DR20 (drink)
DR80 (drugs)
Driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol
6 months
£5,000
Obligatory
3-11*
DR10
In charge while unfit
3 months
£5,000
Discretionary
10
DR50 (drink)
DR90 (drugs)
In charge with excess alcohol
3 months
£2,500
Discretionary
10
DR40
Failing to co-operate with a preliminary test
-
£1,000
Discretionary
4
DR70
Failing or refusing to supply an evidential specimen when "driving or attempting to drive"
6 months
£5,000
Obligatory
3-11*
DR30
Failing or refusing to provide an evidential specimen when not "driving or attempting to drive"
3 months
£2,500
Discretionary
10
DR60
Failure to allow specimen to be subjected to laboratory test when "driving or attempting to drive"
6 months
£5,000
Obligatory
3-11*

Causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs **
14 years
Unlimited
Obligatory
2 years minimum
3-11*
CD40 (drink)
CD50 (drugs)
CD60 (excess alcohol)
Causing death by careless driving and then failing to supply specimen for analysis **
14 years
Unlimited
Obligatory
2 years minimum
3-11*
CD70

* no points may be imposed when offender is disqualified

** where a court disqualifies a person on conviction for one of these offences, it must
order an extended retest and for those offences marked

If you have any pervious drink drive convictions within a 10 year period then the driving ban you will receive will be a minimum length of 3 years.

 

Drink Driving Related Endorsements
Offence
On driving licence for
DR10 - Drive or attempt to drive with excess alcohol
11 years
DR40 - In charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol
4 years
DR20, DR80 - Drive or attempt to drive while unfit through drink or drugs
11 years
DR50, DR90 - In charge of a vehicle while unfit through drink or drugs
4 years
DR30 - Failing to provide a specimen for analysis while driving or attempting to drive a vehicle
11 years
DR60 - Failing to provide a specimen for analysis while in charge of a vehicle
4 years
DR70 - Failing to co-operate with a preliminary roadside breath test
4 years














The penalties for driving above the drink drive legal limit

A conviction for drink driving also means:

  • the cost of your car insurance will increase significantly
  • if you drive for work, your employer will see your conviction when you have to produce your licence
  • you may have trouble getting permission to travel into countries like the USA

 

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