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Drink Driving Court Outcomes: What You Can Expect and How to Prepare for Your Hearing

In court proceedings for drink driving in England and Wales, you can expect outcomes ranging from fines to driving disqualifications and even custodial sentences, depending on the severity of the offence.

The legal alcohol limit in your breath, blood, or urine will be a key factor in determining the sentence but if you are preparing for your hearing, it’s crucial to understand the possible defences available, such as questioning the accuracy of the alcohol readings or whether the proper procedures were followed by the police.

Pleading guilty may lead to a lesser sentence, especially if you can present mitigating factors like the shortness of the distance driven or an emergency situation. If it’s a repeat offence, expect more severe penalties.

Preparing for trial involves gathering evidence, possibly including expert reports, witness statements, and reviewing any relevant CCTV footage. Remember, getting expert legal advice and help can significantly aid your preparation to get the best possible outcome.

Caddick Davies Can Help

If you are facing drink driving charges and court proceedings, our team at Caddick Davies Solicitors can help. We are a specialist motoring law firm and our solicitors give honest advice and expert guidance to help you to secure the most successful outcome possible when facing charges for drink driving penalties other offences. We pride ourselves on our ability to both identify and successfully argue defences, so if you have a defence, we will find it.

Call our expert team today: 0151 944 4967

The Complexities Of Drink Driving Laws

The Complexities Of Drink Driving Laws

Drink driving laws are complex, encompassing many aspects from arguing factual points, like whether you were actually driving, to procedural ones, like whether you received the legally required warning when stopped.

These complexities can lead to a wide variety of legal issues, so it’s crucial to pinpoint the ones most relevant to your situation. This could be accepting responsibility for the offence with the aim of getting the least severe punishment, or it could be defending yourself by arguing you weren’t driving.

If you’ve been charged with a drink driving offence and you’re unsure or worried about what comes next, that’s completely fine and normal.

Preparing For Court Outcomes – What To Expect

Preparing For Court Outcomes - What To Expect

If you decide to plead guilty, or have been convicted of drink driving, we can assist you in preparing your case. Our goal is to present mitigating factors to the court that could lead to the lightest sentence possible.

One option is to pursue a ‘drink drive awareness course.’ This course is designed to deter repeat offences and can be taken in person or online, spanning a total of 16 hours, typically spread over three weeks. This course is shared with other drink-driving offenders, facilitating a supportive learning environment.

Upon completion, you’ll receive a ‘certificate of course completion’ from the course provider. If the course is completed within the court-specified timeframe, your disqualification period could be reduced by 25%. For example, a 12-month disqualification could be reduced by 3 months, meaning you would serve 9 months instead of the full year.

If the court is contemplating a community order or a custodial sentence, a meeting with a probation officer will be arranged. This meeting will help determine the most suitable sentence. The probation team will then submit a report of their sentencing recommendations, which will be considered by the Magistrates’ Court.

In preparation for these hearings, collecting numerous character references could be advantageous, as they can demonstrate your good character to the court. Additionally, we highly recommend submitting a letter of apology to the court to express your remorse for your actions.

I Want to Plead Not Guilty, What Options are Available?

I Want to Plead Not Guilty, What Options are Available

There are several issues which may give rise to a defence in law, for example:

Factual Defences:

  • I was not driving or attempting to drive – this may give rise to a plea bargain to an alternative offence of ‘drunk in charge’ which can be sentenced by penalty points as opposed to a disqualification from driving.
  • I was not driving a mechanically propelled vehicle.
  • The location of the offence was not a road or other public place – The Road Traffic Act does not apply to private land.
  • I was acting in necessity or under “duress of circumstance” – This requires a person to fear serious harm and their reaction must be what could be expected of reasonable person.

Technical Defences:

The Defendant’s recollected consumption level of alcohol does not correlate with the breath reading

  • You may feel that the reading that was detected was higher than you expected and does not correlate with how much you have had to drink as per the principle set by Cracknell v Willis [1988].
  • By way of preparation, an independent expert would be instructed to comment on your recollected breath consumption compared to the reading provided and to the potential reasoning for the difference. If the report is positive, then this places doubt on the prosecution’s case as this infers that the machine is unreliable or faulty.
  • For the prosecution to be successful they must prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. If doubt can be established, then this calls into question their case.

Post alcohol consumption

  • If you are not stopped by the police whilst driving, it may be that between the time of your driving and providing an evidential specimen, that you have consumed alcohol.
  • If this is the case, then it can be argued that had it not been for your post driving consumption then your evidential specimen would have not exceeded the legal prescribed limit at the time of driving.
  • To argue this defence an independent expert will need to provide a “back calculation” report, which will provide evidence of what your specimen would have been at the time of driving.
  • If it is proven on the balance of probabilities that it is your post driving consumption that has caused you to exceed the specified limit, then you will be found not guilty of the offence.

Procedural Defences:

The statutory warning was not provided

When stopped by the police under the suspicion of driving with excess alcohol then they are required to warn you of the following:

“I require you to provide two specimens of breath for analysis by means of an approved device. The specimen with the lower proportion of alcohol may be used as evidence and the other will be disregarded. I warn you that failure to provide either of these specimens will render you liable to prosecution.” “Do you agree to provide two specimens of breath for analysis ?”

How important is this warning? In Simpson v Spalding, Lord Justice Ralph Gibson said, “I can see no escape from the conclusion that a failure to warn causes the requirement made without that warning to be ineffective.”

Therefore, if the statutory warning is not provided, then this gives rise to an automatic defence which will secure an acquittal. Wondering how to prove that this warning was not given? Once this issue is raised, the prosecution is required to prove that the statutory warning was given and so the burden is not placed upon you.

The taking of urine samples

Two specimens of urine must be taken within one hour of one another. If however, there is insufficient time between specimens or one specimen is split into two, this specimen will not be admissible and you will be acquitted of the offence.

Taking of blood samples

A blood sample must be taken by a medical practitioner and consent must be given to them for the specimen to be taken. If either of these things are not provided or requested, then the specimen will be inadmissible which will result in your acquittal.

Examples of Special Reasons Which Can Be Argued

Examples of Special Reasons Which Can Be Argued

Special reasons in a drink driving case are circumstances that the court should take into account when determining the sentence. Here are a few examples:

  1. Shortness of distance driven – If the distance you drove while under the influence was minimal, this could potentially be argued as a special reason.
  2. Driving due to an emergency – If there was an urgent, life-threatening situation that necessitated you to drive, despite being under the influence, this might be considered a special reason.
  3. A driver’s drink being spiked without their knowledge – If you unknowingly consumed alcohol because someone spiked your drink, this circumstance might be recognized as a special reason.

Remember, these special reasons are not defences to a drink driving charge, hence a guilty plea is still entered. However, they are extenuating factors that can influence the court’s decision in mitigating your sentence.

The court examines these reasons to determine moral culpability, seeking to understand the motivation behind your actions. Therefore, presenting special reasons requires comprehensive evidence and a persuasive argument.

Preparation for Trial & Special Reasons

Preparation for Trial Special Reasons

Despite entering a guilty plea, arguing for special reasons in court follows a similar procedure to a trial, thus necessitating comparable preparation.

If you’re curious about what such preparation entails, it usually includes the following steps:

  1. Instructing an expert to provide a report – An expert witness can offer valuable insights and professional opinion to substantiate your special reasons or defence.
  2. Witness statements – These can corroborate your account of events, providing crucial evidence in support of your case.
  3. Defence case statement requesting secondary disclosure – This document outlines your defence and may request additional information that the prosecution has yet to disclose.
  4. Review of CCTV and body-worn footage – Such footage can serve as objective evidence supporting your special reasons or defence.
  5. Completion of the Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing (PTPH) form – This document records key information about your case and its readiness for trial.
  6. Effective case management – This involves organizing all elements of your case, ensuring efficient progress, and preparing for possible outcomes.

The process might seem daunting, but understanding these steps and adequately preparing for them can significantly aid your case. If you have legal representation, they will guide you through each step to ensure your case is as strong as possible.

Contact our legal experts today

Conclusion

Conclusion for drink driving defence

In conclusion, if you’re faced with a drink-driving charge, it’s crucial to understand the legal limits, potential sentences, and defences available. The legal limit in England and Wales is well-defined, with specific measures for breath, blood, and urine samples. Penalties vary based on your alcohol level and whether it’s a first or subsequent offence, ranging from fines and community orders to custodial sentences and driving disqualifications.

Pleading guilty or not guilty opens different paths. Guilty pleas will involve mitigation to achieve the lowest possible sentence, potentially including a drink drive awareness course.

Not guilty pleas will require the exploration of factual, technical, or procedural defenses. In some circumstances, even after a guilty plea, you might avoid disqualification by demonstrating ‘special reasons.’

Preparation for your hearing involves collating evidence, seeking expert reports, and organizing witness statements. It’s essential to work with experienced motoring law specialists who can guide you through this process. The outcome of a drink driving case will depend on many factors, but with the right preparation and representation, you can effectively navigate your hearing.

Next Steps

Our leading team of motoring offence solicitors at Caddick Davies have a reputation for success when it comes to defending motorists charged with drink driving offences. We work with clients all over the UK and are rated in the top 20 law firms on TrustPilot. For efficient and effective legal advice for motoring offences, please get in touch to discuss your case with our friendly team today.

FAQs About Drink Driving Offences

What is the Legal Limit of Alcohol in the England and Wales?

What is the Legal Limit of Alcohol in the England and Wales

The legal limit in England and Wales is :

  • 35 micro grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath; or
  • 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or
  • 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of urine

Can you get a driving ban for drink driving related offences?

Yes, you can get a driving fine or ban for drink driving related offences as driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence that is often met with strict penalties. These penalties can include a driving disqualification or ban, fines, mandatory attendance at alcohol education programs, and in some severe cases, imprisonment.

The length of any driving ban issued can vary depending on the severity of the offence, whether it is a first-time offence or a repeat offence, and the blood alcohol concentration at the time of the offence.

What is the Sentence for Driving with Excess Alcohol?

You may be wondering what the outcome would be for the reading which you have provided should you be sentenced before the Magistrates’ Court.

The below table provides sentencing guidelines, as well as the starting point that the magistrates will consider when imposing a sentence.

Breath (UG) Blood (MG) Urine (MG) Starting point Range Disqualification Disqualification if second offence within 10 years
120 – 150 and above 276 – 345 and above 367 – 459 and above 12 weeks custody High level community order – 26 weeks’ custody 29 – 36 months (Extend if imposing immediate custody) 36 – 60 months
90 – 119 207 – 275 275 – 366 Medium level community order Low level community order – High level community order 23 – 28 months 36 – 52 months
60 – 89 138 – 206 184 – 274 Band C fine Band C Fine – Low level community order 17 – 22 months 36 – 46 months
36 – 59 81 – 137 108 – 183 Band C fine Band B Fine – Band C fine 12 – 16 months 36 – 40 months

 

Further reading: Drink driving sentencing guidelines – what you need to know

What is the Outcome if This is My Second Offence of Driving with Excess Alcohol?

If this is your second offence for driving under the influence of alcohol, the consequences increase significantly as per the stipulated legal guidelines. As highlighted in the referenced table, a second offence within ten years mandates a minimum driving disqualification of three years.

This is alongside a likely financial penalty, community order, or potentially even a custodial sentence. The exact penalties can vary based on the specifics of your individual case, underscoring the gravity of repeat drink driving offences.

Further reading: Caught drink driving for the second time, we can help

Motoring Lawyer at Caddick Davies Solicitors
Caddick Davies is recognised as one of England and Wales’ leading motoring law firms, offering specialist Speeding Solicitors, Drink Driving Solicitors & Dangerous Driving Solicitors.We provide advice and representation on all motoring offences including speeding, the avoidance of disqualification on penalty points or “totting up” (exceptional hardship), driving without due care and attention (careless driving), dangerous driving, drink driving, as well as a range of services related to medical revocation of a driving licence.
Neil Davies
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