The Daily Mail reported recently that almost three quarters of a million motorists will risk accidents and bans this Christmas as a shock survey reveals complacency on drink-driving.
The figures have emerged from a Co-op Insurance survey, with 11% of all motorists saying they’ll drink alcohol over the holiday season, and nearly one in five of these admited they’ll be driving home knowing full well that they exceed the limit.
Despite those caught driving whilst over the legal limit or unfit through drink can receive: six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a driving ban for at least a year, the DVLA believe 80% of people believe they will be over the drink drive limit when they drive, as they rely on their car for work.
But is there ever a valid excuse for driving after you’ve had a drink? Neil Davies gives his thoughts on this very serious issue.
“The Co-op insurance survey and the reasons given by some drivers for driving when they are knowingly over the legal drink driving limit does give cause for concern. At Caddick Davies Solicitors we represent many motorists who are caught drink driving both throughout the year and through the Christmas period and witness the consequences of the decision to drink and drive, with a mandatory disqualification for a minimum of 12 months and usually longer having implications on drivers employment and family lives.”
“This being said, there are those rare occasions in law where a convicted drink driver can avoid disqualification on the grounds of “special reasons”, being reasons connected with how the offence happened. These reasons can range from things such as “laced drinks” (e.g. you asked for an alcohol free cocktail but were given one containing alcohol by mistake), “emergency” (e.g. a loved one needed to get to hospital and there being no other alternative), “shortness of distance driven” (e.g. where a car has been moved a matter of feet and there was no risk of coming into contact with other road users) and any other reason where it can be said to be a “genuine and mitigating circumstance” which provides real justification. Below are a few examples of cases which we have dealt with:”
“A lady who had been at a house party with friends and consciously drinking “bucks fizz” (prosecco and orange juice) knowing she was driving the next day, but was given drinks also containing the orange based liquor Cointreau, which meant that she was still marginally over the limit the next day. In this case with evidence from friends and an expert, the court were persuaded not to disqualify on the grounds that this was a genuine mistake.”
“A young man who had been locked out of his home and in trying to enter in the early hours had severely lacerated his hand causing extensive blood loss and who with no access to a phone could not contact emergency services, had been forced to drive to the hospital and was stopped by the police on route who took him to the hospital for medical attention where he was also breathalysed and found to be over the limit. The court accepted that this was a genuine emergency as the injury was life threatening and he had no other alternative, such that they agreed not to disqualify him.”
Shortness of Distance Driven
“An elderly gentleman had driven to the local pub as it was raining and had left it outside with the intention of collecting it the following day. On leaving the pub to walk home he realised that it was badly parked and therefore moved it no more than 4 feet to be closer to the kerb before walking home. The court agreed that the distance driven was so short and the likelihood of coming into conflict with other road users so minimal that they should not disqualify him.”
“The message to all drivers however, must be that if you want to avoid the consequences of a drink driving conviction and disqualification, you should not drink and drive!!”