Drink Driving

Sonn Macmillan Walker is a leading specialist in defending drink driving offences.

It is an offence to drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle on a road (or in a public place) when unfit through drink or drugs. It is also an offence to drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle on a road (or in a public place) if the proportion of alcohol in your breath exceeds the prescribed limit.

If convicted of either of these offences, there is a minimum mandatory period of disqualification for twelve months. Depending on the level of the unfitness or the alcohol reading (if there is one), the period of disqualification may be longer. Two or more convictions for drink driving offences within ten years will attract a mandatory disqualification for a minimum of three years.

It is an offence to fail to provide a specimen of breath for analysis at the police station. Conviction carries mandatory disqualification for at least one year if the defendant had driven the vehicle in question and discretionary disqualification if he was merely in charge of it. We can advise as to the limited circumstances in which a court may find a suspect at a police station had a reasonable excuse for failing or refusing to provide a specimen of breath.

Finally, there are the offences of being in charge of a vehicle whilst unfit or having consumed alcohol over the prescribed limit. These offences arise where a defendant has not actually been caught driving or attempting to drive a vehicle, but was in charge of it. The concept of being "in charge" of a vehicle is a potentially wide concept. We can advise as to the law in this respect.

There is a statutory defence to the above two offences, namely that at the time of the alleged offence, there was no likelihood of the defendant driving whilst he remained unfit or over the limit. Unlike all of the other drink drive offences, someone convicted of being in charge of a vehicle whilst unfit through drink or drugs or, whilst over the limit, will not face mandatory disqualification.

In rare circumstances, it is possible to invoke what are called "special reasons" as to why someone should not be disqualified from driving after having been convicted of a driving offence including a drink drive offence. The most notable examples are shortness of distance driven and laced drinks.

For obvious reasons, the courts are extremely reluctant to find "special reasons", and we can advise as to any that might be appropriate to your case. "Special reasons" only apply to the circumstances in which the vehicle was being driven and not to the effect that a disqualification may have on the driver or his family.

Finally, the courts operate a drink driver rehabilitation scheme whereby the courts can reduce a period of disqualification for drink drive offences by up to 25%, provided that during the period of the disqualification the defendant successfully completes an approved drink drive rehabilitation course. The offer of the scheme is discretionary, as is the percentage discount. If we represent you, we will urge the court to allow you to participate and to allow the maximum discount.