Drinking and driving, why you shouldn’t have ‘one more for the road’…

For anyone convicted of drinking and driving the penalties imposed could be severe.  Depending upon the concentration of alcohol found to be in the driver’s breath, blood or urine, they could be sent to prison for up to 6 months or ordered to undertake a community penalty such as community service or ordered to pay a fine (with no maximum set).  Coupled with the above penalties will be a mandatory driving ban of at least 12 months.  The length of the ban could, of course, be much longer than the minimum 1 year (such short bans are usually reserved for those found to be only just above the drink drive limit) and could be as long as several years. The convicted driver might also have to pay costs as well as, what is termed, a ‘victim surcharge’. 

It can’t get any worse, can it?

Yes, it can. Drink drive cases are often linked to accidents or other factors which aggravate the offence still further.  The police have the power to prosecute for multiple offences arising out of the same incident.  Even if the police only prosecute for drink driving the fact that there was, for example, a collision can act as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.  In other words, the sentence is likely to be even more severe.

Can anything be done to mitigate the penalties?

Yes.  In all cases there is mitigation relating to the offence or to the Defendant’s background circumstances (usually both).  The range and variety of mitigation is infinite and varies from case to case. It is necessary to go into detail with each Defendant to find out what his or her personal mitigation is and how best to present it.   At the hearing, adopting the correct approach both to the prosecutor and the court, combined with presenting the mitigation to best effect, usually softens the penalty.  This can prove to be the difference between a prison sentence and a community penalty or between a community penalty and a fine.  In practice, the length of the ban can also sometimes be reduced.  

You can read more about drink driving here

If you need advice as how best to present your mitigation don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Sunil Rupasinha

Specialist Motor Offence Barrister

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