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Drink & drug driving solicitors
Drink driving and driving whilst unfit through drugs are both serious motoring offences that can result in imprisonment and disqualification from driving.
In the UK, the current legal alcohol limits are:
- 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath
- 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
- 107 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine
You do not have be to drunk to commit a drink driving offence and, indeed, many people are caught out by roadside breath tests the morning after a night spent drinking, even though they may feel perfectly capable of driving.
For drink driving offences, should you fail a roadside breath test, evidence of the alcohol level will need to be gathered at the police station, via a breath, blood or urine specimen. You can also be prosecuted for failing to supply a sample, or if you were in charge of a stationary vehicle while over the limit. If you are over the limit while supervising a provisional driver then you could be prosecuted for being drunk in charge of a vehicle.
There is no set rule for determining how much alcohol you can drink and stay below the limit. This will vary from person to person and will depend on factors such as size, age, gender, metabolism, type of alcohol consumed, stress levels and whether you have eaten recently.
Drink driving carries a minimum 12-month driving ban, a fine of up to £5,000 and an endorsement on your licence for 11 years. If someone is injured or killed as a result of your drink driving then you could also be convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.
Driving whilst unfit through drugs, also known as drug driving, is a serious offence which is punishable in the same way as drink driving. If you are stopped on suspicion of drug driving then police will look at your appearance and behaviour for signs of drug use, which will vary depending on the drug. The law does not differentiate between illegal substances and over the counter or prescription medicines, which can sometimes make the user drowsy. 2015 saw an amendment to the Road Traffic Act 1988 which introduced the offence of Driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with concentration of specified controlled drug above specified level. There are currently 16 drugs which have been identified in the Drug Driving (Specified Limits) (England and Wales) Regulations 2014. It is not a ‘zero-tolerance’ offence and legal limits have been set for each specified drug. Importantly however, the Police currently only have the ability to test for Cannabinoids, Benzodiazepines and Cocaine. The procedure is very similar to that used for a road side alcohol breath test. The Police will carry out a road side test and if the result is positive you will be arrested and further evidence will be gathered by the Police. Once at the Police station, a blood sample will be taken unless there is a good reason not to provide one. If there is a refusal to supply a specimen of blood, without a good reason, this is a separate offence of failing to provide a specimen.
The Police can also still pursue and investigate the offence of driving whilst unfit whilst any specimen of blood is being analysed as this offence does not require the presence of a drug to exceed a prescribed limit. This will very much be based on a Police Officers assessment of you at the roadside and at the Police Station. Therefore if your blood sample does not exceed the prescribed limit, you can still be charged with an offence of driving whilst unfit.
If you are arrested for either of these offences and wish to plead not guilty, then specialist legal advice is vital. At Minton Morrill, we can identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, including inappropriate behaviour by police, who are legally bound to follow strict procedures. If you wish to plead guilty or are found guilty after trial then we will ensure that you receive the most lenient sentence in the circumstances.
Our specialists will also advise you on whether there are any mitigating circumstances which can result in you avoiding disqualification. These circumstances are known as ‘special reasons’ and narrowly defined in law and complicated to establish – for example, ‘spiked’ drinks or shortness of distance travelled. With our expert knowledge, we will be able to guide you through these arguments.
To find out more about how our road traffic offence solicitors in Leeds, Bradford, Hull, Yorkshire and the wider North of England can help you, please contact us.
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