If you face drink or drug driving allegations, the repercussions can be very serious. If a court finds you guilty you will be disqualified from driving for at least a year, possibly a lot longer unless you have a very good reason for driving under the influence. More serious cases can even result in a prison sentence.
Our team of specialist motoring lawyers have substantial experience in reviewing and testing cases at court and in the police station, resulting in a consistently high success rate.
Convictions for drink or drug driving will very often result in a long driving ban and a serious criminal record. The consequences of drink and drug driving can be devastating, as can be a conviction. We specialise in defending drink and driving cases, and here are some questions we are frequently asked by clients who are not guilty of this offence.
- How can I prove I was under the limit?
You do not have to prove you were not drink or drug driving, it will always be for the prosecution to prove you are guilty. Even if you are probably guilty, that is never enough. The prosecution must prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, so that the court is sure of your guilt. If you have provided a specimen of breath, blood or urine there may be various presumptions or assumptions, but they can be rebutted by evidence.
- I wasn’t the driver, but the police think I was, what can I do?
It is always vital that there is reliable evidence that you were the driver of the vehicle at the same time as being unfit or over the limit to drive. Just because it was your car does not mean that you were the driver. If the police did not stop you actually driving then the question of the identification of the driver is likely to be important.
- I wasn’t drunk when I drove, but had a drink afterwards before the police came, now they think I am guilty, what can I do?
If you were legal to drive, and after the time of the driving but before you gave a sample to police you consumed alcohol, you have a statutory defence, known as the ‘hip flask’ defence. You should be not guilty of a criminal offence.
- I was sat in the car but I wasn’t going anywhere, why shouldn’t I have a drink?
If you weren’t driving you might still have been ‘in charge’ of the vehicle, which can also be an offence. However, if there was no likelihood of you driving whilst over the limit then you have not committed any criminal offence.
- Did I have to give the breath sample to the police?
You probably did, but if you’re wondering about this question they you may not have been given the necessary statutory warning about the consequences of failing to give the sample in the police station. Before you blew into the machine, the police must have warned you about the consequences of failing to provide – if they didn’t, or if they can’t prove they did, you should not be convicted of driving over the limit.
- Is the breathalyser machine reliable and accurate?
Generally the machines are reliable. Lawyers have spent years arguing over the reliability of the breathalyser machines used by the police and many of these arguments no longer have merit. Areas of challenge involve calibration, type approval, interference by mobile or radio devices, failure of blank simulator samples, mouth alcohol not breath alcohol. Moreover, the machine is only ever as good as its operator and if the machine has not been used properly then the results may be misleading or inadmissible. In drug driving cases, the reliability of the new field testing equipment is an area for very careful examination, and is an evolving topic for challenge.
- If I am convicted it will be a disaster, I will lose my job and home and everything, is there anything you can do for me?
Every person has the right to plead not guilty and to test the prosecution case, whether they admit the offence or not. Sometimes it can be difficult to know whether the evidence is sufficient to prove the case at the very beginning. Some clients are prepared to explore whether the evidence is sufficient, such are the consequences of being convicted. Although a guilty person is incentivised to plead guilty by being given a discount on their sentence, this will never reduce the period of a driving ban. The rules and processes are complex and the police can easily make mistakes that mean you might never be convicted. A failure to complete the paperwork properly, a failure to give the statutory warning, a failure to use the equipment correctly, sometimes just the disorganisation of the prosecution, can all lead some clients to be found not guilty of drink or drug driving.