Fact - In Britain between 2010 and 2020 an estimated 6,480 people were killed or injured when at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit.
Road Traffic Offences
Prosecutions for road traffic offences follow the same Court procedure as any other offence. However there is a key difference, in addition to any other penalty, most traffic offences also:
are recorded on the defendant’s driving licence
could result in disqualification from driving and
carry penalty points
Disqualification from Driving
Most offences carry penalty points and you can lose your licence through accumulating too many points over a short period, however this article will not focus on "totting up".
The penalty for offences are also either discretionary or obligatory. A court must disqualify a defendant if convicted of an offence carrying obligatory disqualification*. Driving under the influence of drink or drugs carries an obligatory disqualification.
How long is the ban?
A Court must disqualify a defendant for, at least 12 months, if convicted of an offence carrying obligatory disqualification.*
The minimum period of disqualification is increased to two years if:
the defendant is convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, or causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs; or
in the three years prior to the current offence, the defendant has received more than one disqualification for a fixed period of at least 56 days.
The minimum period of disqualification is increased to three years if:
the defendant is convicted of any offence involving ‘drink driving’ or driving whilst unfit through drugs
the defendant has a conviction within the 10 years preceding the current offence for any similar type of offence.
But I need my licence
Many people believe that if they are caught drink driving they may be able to avoid a ban if they can prove to the Court that they need their licence and losing it would cause exceptional hardship.
This is not the case. Mitigation, as it is known, can only be used to persuade the Court to impose as short a ban as possible on the driver in cases where they are obliged to disqualify. This is because when there is an obligation to ban the driver the Court will only take into consideration the circumstances of the offence, for example it could be argued that the ban should be for as short a time as possible as the driver was only slightly over the limit etc. The Court will not listen to personal circumstances, such as the driver needing his licence for work etc as it is personal and not related to the offence.
The only way to avoid an obligatory ban is by successfully arguing that ‘special reasons’ exist, but the Court may still impose penalty points.
*What are Special Reasons?
In some case Defendants have successfully argued that:
their drinks were spiked;
the distance driven was extremely short; or
the only reason for driving was in response to an emergency.
However, it is also important to note that Special reasons are not a defence to the charge, and that, even if they can be proved, the Court will still impose penalties.
If you are caught drink driving then it is almost inevitable that you will receive a ban from driving. The Court will not consider your particular circumstances as they are not related to the offence itself.
However, if you are appearing in Court charged with drink driving and you wish to have someone represent you in Court then please feel free to contact us.