Posted on 2nd February 2013

As Christmas approaches and the office party is around the corner it is important to remember that it is certainly not the season of goodwill if you are caught behind the wheel after one too many!

Just as the office party is a tradition so is it the tradition of the police at this time of year to have a concerted campaign to target those who might have made an error of judgment and opted for a glass of wine over the unappealing glass of water; that you and hundreds like you had intended to drink when they decided to drive to whatever function they happened to be attending, rather than risking the perils of hailing a taxi on a cold winters night.


Most of us in the fast paced world that we live in depend upon driving licences, the loss of a licence can have a devastating impact: it can lead to the loss of jobs, homes and in the most extreme cases the breakdown of families not to mention the embarrassment and loss of reputation. All of this is perhaps well known but it does not stop many from taking the risk who do so in the knowledge that statistically the odds of getting caught are in their favour, the  “it won’t happen to me” attitude that we are all guilty of at times. If you are caught behind the wheel over the limit there is a minimum disqualification of 12 months but they can be much longer with a minimum ban of 3 years if you are convicted of a second offence within 10 years, not to mention a fine and in some extreme cases a prison sentence. Often the most important thing is to keep the ban to a minimum or in some cases it is possible to argue special reasons for the court not to disqualify you at all. This requires skilled representation usually from an expert in this area and the earlier you get advice the better chance you have of taking the right path saving further expense and heartache in the long run.

Sometimes individuals fail to provide a specimen at the police station no doubt fearful of what reading they may produce.  This does not assist an individual in the long run as they will simply be charged with failing to provide an evidential sample and the minimum period of disqualification is again 12 months.

In some cases it is possible to argue that there was a reasonable excuse for failing to provide a specimen for analysis. This is a very technical area and requires expert advice at the earliest opportunity to have any hope of success.

Offences concerning excess alcohol are among the most technical offences in the criminal calendar, correct procedure is paramount and the police do make mistakes. In some cases it may be possible to argue that the police failed to follow the correct procedure which can lead to cases being thrown out of court much to the chagrin of the police and no doubt to the relief of the individual who manages to leave court with his licence firmly in his grasp.

Overall if you sadly opt to take the risk and find yourself in the middle of the “Traditional” police drink driving campaign it is important to get expert advice and you might just be able to dig yourself out of what could be a very dark and lonely hole! Merry Christmas.

Written by Tim Pole, Barrister at No5 Chambers

Tim Pole is a leading expert in motoring law and registered to accept instructions by direct access.

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