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Drink driving penalties

This article provides an overview of drink driving penalties. As you'll notice there are a number of nuances, and many aggravating and mitigating factors for each offence.

(1) Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs

This is the most serious drink driving offence. As the level of alcohol consumption increases, so does the severity of the penalty. The maximum penalty is an unlimited fine and/or 14 years imprisonment; an obligatory disqualification for at least two years (three years if there is a relevant previous conviction); and the obligatory endorsement of the driver's licence with 3-11 penalty points. The minimum custodial penalty is one year imprisonment. Read pages 12 to 13 of the Causing Death By Driving Sentencing Guidelines for more information and to learn about additional aggravating and mitigating factors.

(2) Driving or attempting to drive when under the influence of drink or drugs

As indicated above, the penalties for drink driving get progressively worse the more alcohol is in your system. For this offence, a first time offender over 18 could receive a driving ban of anywhere between one year and three years, a hefty fine, and some form of community punishment order or 3-6 month prison sentence.

The table below shows the factors that the court will take into account in deciding its sentence for a first time offender:

Level of alcohol (mg)

Penalties

Breath test

Blood test

Urine test

Disqualification (months)

Fine / Community Punishment / Prison

36 - 59

81 - 137

108 - 183

12 - 16

 Band C fine (see page 148 of Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guideline)

60 - 89

138 -- 206

184 - 274

17 - 22

Band C fine

90 - 119

207 -- 275

275 - 366

23 - 28

Community punishment order

120 -- 150+

276 - 345+

367 - 459+

29 -- 36

High level community punishment order or 12-26 weeks imprisonment

If you agree to attend a drink driving rehabilitation course , the judge may grant a 25% reduction in the period of disqualification. Repeat offenders should note that people convicted of a similar offence within the ten year period preceding the most recent crime will receive a mandatory three year minimum driving ban. The maximum driving ban for repeat offenders for this offence is five years. To learn more about the aggravating and mitigating factors for this offence, and possible sentences for repeat offenders, read pages 124 and 132 to 133 of the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines.

(3) In charge of a vehicle when under the influence of drink or drugs

For this offence, the judge may impose a £2,500 fine and/or 3 months imprisonment, and disqualification for 12-36 months or 10 penalty points for 11 years. Read page 134 of the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines for additional information and to learn about the various aggravating and mitigating factors.

(4) Driving or attempting to drive with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit

This offence carries the following potential penalties: six months imprisonment, £5,000 fine, and a 12-36 month obligatory driving ban. If you were convicted of a similar offence within a ten year period preceding the most recent crime, a mandatory three year minimum period of disqualification will be imposed. Note also that the judge may grant a 25% reduction in the period of disqualification if you attend a drink driving rehabilitation course. Read page 124 of the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines for additional information on the aggravating and mitigating factors that may increase/decrease the penalties for this offence.

(5) In charge of a vehicle with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit

For this offence, the court may impose a £2,500 fine and/or 3 months imprisonment, and disqualification for 12-36 months or 10 penalty points for 4 years. Read page 126 of the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines for additional information and to learn about the various aggravating and mitigating factors.

(6) Failure to co-operate with preliminary test

This offence comes with a £1,000 maximum fine and either a 12-36 month driving ban or 4 penalty points for 4 years. Read page 129 of the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines for information on the aggravating and mitigating factors that may increase or decrease the penaly.

(7) Failure to provide an evidential specimen for analysis (after driving / attempting to drive)

For this offence, the judge may order up to six months imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000, and a 12-36 month obligatory driving ban. If you were convicted of a similar offence within a ten year period preceding the most recent crime, a mandatory three year minimum period of disqualification will be imposed. Note also that the judge may grant a 25% reduction in the period of disqualification if you attend a drink driving rehabilitation course. Read page 128 of the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines for additional information on the aggravating and mitigating factors that may increase/decrease the penalties for this offence.

(8) Failure to provide an evidential specimen for analysis (after being in charge)

This offence carries the following maximum penalties: £2,500 fine and/or 3 months imprisonment, and driving disqualification for 12-36 months or 10 penalty points for 4 years. Read page 129 of the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines for additional information and to learn about the various aggravating and mitigating factors.

(9) Failure to give permission for laboratory test (after driving / attempting to drive)

The maximum penalties for this offence are identical to those for 'failing to provide an evidential specimen for analysis (after driving / attempting to drive)', which is discussed above.

(10) Failure to give permission for laboratory test (after being in charge)

The maximum penalties for this offence are identical to those for 'failing to provide an evidential specimen for analysis (after being in charge)', which is discussed above.

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