Legal advice from Gary Schooler, Criminal Partner based at FDR Law’s office in Warrington.
Q: I have been found over the limit whilst driving to work. I had drunk alcohol the night before but thought I was safe to drive. What will happen now?
A: More and more people are being pulled over the following morning after drinking, unaware they are over the limit. Often people think that by the morning after they will be ok, however there is no way of knowing exactly how long it takes to sober up, as every person is different, depending on many factors including height, weight and metabolism. Some research indicates that it can take approximately one hour to eliminate one average alcoholic drink (15ml of alcohol).
Police are trying to help keep the roads safe, particularly at Christmas and on Bank holidays. Officers may carry out random checks or pull drivers over and ask you to do a breathalyser test.
To be classed as over the limit you will have had at least 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of your breath. The police can also test the levels of alcohol in your urine (107mg of alcohol in 100ml) and your blood (80mg of alcohol in 100ml).
If you are charged with drink driving the details of your offence is recorded at a police station and you will be asked to sign a charge sheet. You will be given a date to appear in court.
It is important at this stage to seek professional legal advice as drink driving procedures are extremely technical and complex. There are various penalties you can receive if found guilty of drink driving including a ban from driving for at least a year, a fine of up to £5000, and in some extreme cases a prison sentence of up to 6 months.
Losing your license may have an effect on your job, especially if you commute to work by car. If you are unable to access your workplace via public transport or rely heavily on driving as part of your job you may need consider other options. Some companies require you to inform them if you have been convicted of a criminal offence including drink driving. It is important to check your employment handbook or discuss with your employer.
A solicitor will be able to talk you through all steps of the proceedings, from plea to sentencing. In certain circumstances they can ask for a drink drive rehabilitation course on your behalf which can reduce the length of disqualification by up to 25 percent.
As all cases are different it is important to instruct an solicitor with experience in motoring offences who will try to achieve the best possible result in your circumstances, whether that may be an acquittal or a reduced disqualification or sentence.