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Drinking and driving over Christmas - is it worth it?

Recent research from Confused.com revealed more than half of UK motorists will be going to a Christmas party this month, meaning there is a higher level of temptation than usual to drive home after a few glasses of alcohol. A shocking 5,000 people were caught driving under the influence of alcohol last December; which is the equivalent to more than 160 people a day.

Following the introduction of roadside drug testing in October 2019, this years’ festive campaign is not only targeting drink-drivers but also motorists under the influence of drugs. Police Scotland’s deputy head of road policy, Superintendent Louise Blacklock, says the new campaign is there to remind drivers of the ‘devastating consequences’ that both alcohol and drugs can have on the roads. In this blog, we have put together some legal information and guidance about drink driving and the penalties you can incur over the festive period.

What is the drink driving limit in Scotland?

Although drink driving limits have remained unchanged since 2014, more than one in three UK drivers have confessed they are unsure what the drink-drive limit currently is. People tend to look at alcohol units to determine out how much they can legally drink and still drive; however, the volume of alcohol will vary person to person. How the body processes alcohol depends on numerous factors: your size, metabolism, age, sex, the type of alcohol you’ve been drinking, what you’ve eaten, your alcohol tolerance and whether you’re on any medication.

In Scotland, the legal limit of alcohol in the body is:

  • 22 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath
  • 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood
  • 67 milligrams per 100 millilitres of urine

It is vital to know that the legal drink-drive limit in Scotland is significantly lower than the rest of the UK, with England’s limit at 35mcg per 100ml of breath or 80mg per 100ml of blood. If you have moved from England or Wales, you must remember Scotland’s lower alcohol limit when getting behind the wheel. Having expert legal representation from a professional road traffic defence lawyer is always recommended when you have been charged with drink driving. Contact Martin, Johnston & Socha Solicitors today for help on your case.

What are the penalties if you are charged with driving under the influence?

There are two different drink driving offences under section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. A motorist is in breach of the law if the alcohol concentration (in their breath, blood or urine) is above the prescribed limit and they:

  • Drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle on a road or public place; or,
  • Are in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or public place.

If the police catch you driving while intoxicated, you could get a minimum 12-month driving disqualification, a custodial sentence of six months and a fine of up to £5,000. Depending on the circumstances of the charge – e.g. if you were to record a very high reading or it was a repeat offence – your penalties could be even worse. If it is a person’s second offence in a 10-year period, for example, the driving disqualification time can jump from 12 months to three years.

Similar to the legal drink-drive limit, Scotland’s attitude to a second drink driving offence is different than the rest of the UK. In the event of being found guilty of drink driving again, the car belonging to the convicted person can be seized and crushed under section 33A of the Road Traffic (Offenders) Act 1988. Scotland’s attitude to drink driving has been referred to as ‘draconian’ in comparison to the rest of the UK, which is why robust representation from a specialist defence solicitor is essential.

The law in Scotland also recognises the dangers of an intoxicated person being in charge of a vehicle. If you are found to be drunk while in charge of a vehicle, you could receive up to 10 penalty points or disqualification, three-months imprisonment and a fine up to £2,500. Ensuring you have the best legal representation can be the difference between a life-changing criminal charge and walking free. If you find yourself being prosecuted for drink driving in Scotland, you must get in touch with a qualified road traffic lawyer for specialist advice on what to do next.

Providing a sample – what happens if I refuse?

As a motorist, you should always be aware that the police have extensive powers when it comes to sample-taking. Alongside a drink driving charge, you could also be given an additional charge should you refuse to comply with a sample request from the police without a reasonable excuse. The offence of failing to provide is found under section 6 and section 7(6) of the 1988 Act. The punishment for failing to provide a specimen without a reasonable excuse is looked at just as severely as drink driving. With the help of a proper defence team, it may be possible to put up a valid defence after being convicted of the charge. Speak with our qualified lawyers today by completing the online contact form.

It is wrong to assume that you can choose which type of sample the police take from you. Although this is typically a breath test, if a blood sample is requested and subsequently refused with no medical reason, then the officer has the right to charge you with failure to provide.

If you have been charged with failing to provide a specimen, it is crucial to get legal guidance as there are circumstances where the evidence may become inadmissible. While the police have the power to request a sample if they assume you are under the influence of drink while driving, officers must advise the motorist they can be liable to prosecution if they decide not to provide. If the police officer does not warn the driver that a sample is legally required or they will be prosecuted, the case could be acquitted. Our lawyers will scrutinise the evidence against you and be vigilant with potential procedural errors made during your case.

Contact our Drink Driving Solicitors Alloa, Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, Scotland

At Martin, Johnston & Socha, we have years of experience in defending various road traffic charges – from totting up bans and driving uninsured to dangerous and careless driving. To speak with a member of our team today about a drink driving charge, call our criminal defence lawyers for a free, initial consultation in Dunfermline on 01383 730 466, in Kirkcaldy on 01592 640 680, in Alloa on 01259 725 922 or complete our online enquiry form.

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