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Drink Driving Solicitors

If you have been arrested on suspicion of a drink driving offence, you could face disqualification for twelve months or much longer if you are found guilty, depending on the circumstances. In the most serious drink driving offence cases, you could face imprisonment. You are strongly recommended to seek advice and representation from an expert drink driving solicitor to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a ban.

How our drink driving solicitors can help you

If you ask us to represent you, we will ensure that your rights and interests are protected. If the police or criminal justice system go beyond their authority in dealing with your case, we may be able to ask for the charges to be dropped.

We will also work with you to identify any mitigating factors that could reduce the risk of you facing a drink driving ban. We have extensive experience in representing clients from all walks of life in respect of drink driving charges and we are often successful in ensuring that our clients do not lose their licence.

We offer a full range of drink driving services, including:

We are available 24/7 in case you require representation at a police station outside of normal hours. Our duty solicitors and police station representatives are able to provide free police station advice.

Stephen Rimmer LLP is one of the few law firms based in East Sussex which is authorised by the Legal Aid Agency to carry out Prison Law work. This means that we can provide advice to prisoners in relation to serious driving offences.

We also provide privately funded defence to all driving offence charges.

We have been recognised for our criminal law expertise by the Law Society’s Criminal Litigation accreditation.

For more information in respect of our services, see our motoring defence solicitors page.

Get in touch with our drunk driving solicitors in Eastbourne and Hastings

For immediate expert advice on drink driving offences, please use the contact details below to get in touch:

Our drink driving expertise

Driving with excess alcohol

Under Section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (the Act) it is an offence to drive or be in charge of a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above the prescribed limit.

The drink driving limit is as follows:

  • Breath – 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breach
  • Blood – 80 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood
  • Urine – 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine

Where your readings showed alcohol above any of these levels, you are likely to be charged with the offence of driving with excess alcohol.

If you plead guilty or are found guilty by the court, then your sentence could be a fine, disqualification and imprisonment, depending on how much alcohol was in your blood and whether there were any aggravating factors.

Aggravating factors include:

  • Committing the offence in an area with a high level of traffic or pedestrians
  • Having previous related convictions
  • Having passengers in the car
  • An unacceptable standard of driving
  • Being involved in an accident

The maximum sentence for driving while above the legal limit is 6 months in prison, an unlimited fine and a driving ban for one year. The ban will be for longer if you have previously been convicted for the same offence. If you would like to discuss your case with us, we can advise you of the drink driving ban guidelines for the charge that you are facing.

If you ask us to represent you, we will establish what evidence the police have of the alleged offence and check whether the right protocol has been followed throughout.

We will discuss the strength or weakness of your case with you and the available options.

We will also go through any possible mitigating factors. These could include:

  • Your drink was spiked without your knowledge
  • You only moved the vehicle a very short distance to park it somewhere safe
  • You were driving due to an emergency

If there are mitigating or extenuating circumstances, we will ask the court to consider these and not to endorse or remove your licence.

Other circumstances that may count in your favour include:

  • Having no previous convictions for driving offences
  • Having a clean driving licence
  • An early guilty plea, although you are strongly advised to seek legal advice first
  • Co-operation with the authorities

Being drunk in charge of a vehicle

As well as driving while drunk, it is also a criminal offence to be drunk in charge of a vehicle. There is no requirement to be moving the car and it is enough to be sitting or sleeping in a vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit and in a place to which the public has access. This includes sitting or sleeping in the passenger seat or in the rear of the vehicle.

If you are found guilty of being drunk in charge of a vehicle or you plead guilty to the offence, you could be fined, receive 10 points on your licence or be disqualified from driving. In more serious cases, you could face a custodial sentence of up to six months in prison.

If you have been charged with this offence, we will look at details relevant to your case and put together a robust defence. Points that the courts will take into account include:

  • Whether you were in the vehicle and what seat you were in
  • If you were not in the vehicle, how close you were to it
  • Where the key to the vehicle was
  • Any evidence that you were intending to take control of the vehicle
  • Who else was present

If the car belongs to someone else or was recently driven by someone else, it is generally assumed that they will be in charge of it unless they have put it into your charge.

Where they are no longer in control of the vehicle and there is no realistic chance of them taking back control in the short-term, the court may find that they are no longer in charge.

It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that you intended to commit the offence, instead, you will need to show that it was more likely than not that you had no intention to drive. We can work with you to try and establish either that you were not in control of the vehicle or that you had no intention of driving it whilst over the legal limit for alcohol.

Failing to provide a specimen

If you are suspected of drink driving, being drunk in charge of a vehicle or driving when unfit through alcohol consumption, you can be legally required to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine.

If you fail to provide a specimen or refuse to provide one without a reasonable excuse, the potential penalties are similar to those imposed for drink driving. You could be disqualified for at least 12 months, be fined up to £5,000, be given a community service order or be imprisoned for three months.

If there are aggravating circumstances, such as a previous drink driving conviction within the past ten years, then the penalties will be substantially higher.

If you have been accused of failing to provide a specimen, we will discuss the details with you to establish if you have a valid reason. For example, we may be able to demonstrate that you have a medical condition that made it impossible for you to provide a specimen.

It is also possible to have a case dismissed if the police failed to follow the correct procedure when requesting a specimen. We will go through what happened and check that the right protocol was followed, including advising you that you could be charged with an offence for failing to provide a specimen.

Driving whilst unfit

The older offence of driving whilst unfit makes it an offence to drive while the standard of your driving is impaired because of drinking. This extends to other substances such as medication or drugs.

The offence is different to drink driving and will take into account your conduct prior to being stopped by the police and once you had been stopped. By way of example, they could allege that your driving was erratic, you were unsteady, your speech was slurred and your eyes unable to properly focus. You may be asked to perform a roadside test of your abilities, such as walking in a line, standing on one leg and touching your nose.

If you are found guilty, you could be fined, lose your licence and be sent to prison. The minimum period of disqualification is twelve months.

Our drink driving solicitors fees

Legal aid for drink driving

Our criminal defence solicitors are able to represent you at the police station if needed and this cost will be covered by legal aid. Legal aid may also be available for some serious driving offences and we can discuss your case with you and whether you are eligible.

Privately funded drink driving defence

We can represent you on a private basis if you are facing drink driving charges. For information about our charges, please get in touch.

Drink driving FAQs

Is it worth getting a solicitor for drink driving?

If you are convicted of drink driving, you will have a criminal record and you are likely to lose your licence, which could seriously impact your career as well as other aspects of your life.  There is also a risk of imprisonment for some offences. For this reason, you are strongly advised to speak to a solicitor if you are facing charges of drink driving.

We are often able to deal with matters so that our clients have a lesser sentence, in some cases avoiding disqualification. The earlier we are instructed, the better prepared we can be for your hearing. We will also be able to make sure you protect your interests as far as possible and do not inadvertently make your case worse.

What is the drink driving limit?

The legal limit for alcohol is:

  • Breath – 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breach
  • Blood – 80 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood
  • Urine – 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine

This is my second drink driving conviction, what can I expect?

If you are convicted of drink driving for a second time within ten years of the first offence, you are considered a repeat offender and the sentence you will receive will be higher than for a first offence.

Drink driving sentencing guidelines give the court some discretion when it comes to disqualification, but the minimum period is a three year ban and you could lose your licence for up to five years.

What happens if I choose to take a drink driver rehabilitation course?

If you are found guilty of a drink driving offence and your ban is for 12 months or more, you may be offered a rehabilitation course. You will need to pay for this, at a cost of up to £250, but if you complete it within the specified timeframe, your ban could be reduced, often by up to a quarter.

You will need to decide while you are in court whether you are agreeable to going on a course or not.

How long does drink driving stay on your driving licence?

An endorsement will stay on your driving record for four years or eleven years, depending on the seriousness of the offence. For driving while over the limit you can expect the endorsement to stay on your licence for eleven years.

Is there a fine for drink driving?

You are likely to be fined for drink driving. Fines are imposed based in part on your weekly income as well as other issues such as the severity of the offence.

Get in touch for 24/7 drink driving representation

Our criminal defence lawyers have a high level of expertise in dealing with drink driving cases and a proven track record of helping our clients avoid drink driving convictions.

Based in offices in Eastbourne and Hastings, our criminal defence solicitors support clients all across East Sussex, including in Bexhill-on-Sea, Hailsham, Polegate, Battle, Pevensey and St Leonards-on-Sea.

For immediate expert drink driving advice and representation, please use the contact details below to get in touch:

How can we help you?

Call us today on 01323 644222 to get the specialist help you need.