Driving with excess alcohol

Driving with excess  alcohol

Driving, or attempting to drive, with more than the permitted amount of alcohol in the body is an offence that can ultimately lead to a prison sentence. Usually, the measure is taken from the driver’s breath, but it can be taken from blood or urine, depending on the circumstances. Failing or refusing to comply with the specimen request procedure can lead to a separate offence.

Prosecutions for drink driving can be straightforward but can on occasions be very challenging and complex cases to deal with.

If a driver consumes alcohol after he drove the vehicle, scientific evidence can be used to show that he/she was under the limit at the time of driving.


The penalties include

· A fine of up to £5,000

· A community order

· Up to 6 months in prison

A disqualification from driving for at least 12 months. The length of the disqualification is dependant on the amount of alcohol found to be in the driver’s breath, blood or urine. If a second offence is committed within ten years, the minimum disqualification of 1 year is increased 3 years. while there may also be a greater chance of custody or a community order, depending on the circumstances. If more than two offences be committed in this ten-year period, a prison sentence will most often be considered.

During sentencing, the court will often offer the driver the opportunity to attend a drivers rehabilitation programme. The effect of the programme will be to reduce the disqualification period by up to 25%. There is a cost to be incurred for attendance upon the course and the court will set a date by which the course needs to be completed in order for the benefit of the reduction to be obtained.

Avoiding a disqualification

It is possible in certain circumstances to avoid disqualification if there are ‘special reasons’ relating to the commission of the offence (see special reasons section). Examples of this include where a driver’s drinks were spiked, or where the driving was of such a short distance that there was no real likelihood of coming into contact with other road users.
What are the defences to a charge of a driving with excess alcohol?

· That you were not the driver

· There may be concerns over the way in which the police conducted the investigation, such as incorrectly applying the specimen procedure either at the roadside or the Police Station, or some other defect in the way in which the police approached the arrest and period of detention.

· There may be concerns over the reliability of the specimen device used either at the roadside or at the police station to obtain a specimen of breath.

· There may be concerns about the reliability and validity of the results of samples other than breath, such as urine or blood, and concerns over the way in which the samples were stored in order to produce reliable results. In certain circumstances, a suspect the Police Station is offered the opportunity to take away for independent analysis a sample of either blood or urine. Such samples, when analysed, can achieve a different result to the result obtained by the police.


It is therefore imperative that should you face a penalty for Driving with excess alcohol, in whatever the circumstances are, you seek the right legal advice to help you through what can be a difficult process to give you the very best chance of limiting or avoiding punishment.