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Getting behind the wheel when intoxicated puts yourself as well as members of the public in danger. As such, the offence is understandably taken seriously by the law.

If you were to be pulled over when over the limit after a few post-work drinks or a family get-together, what would happen to you? Will you lose your licence? Go to prison? Or even lose your job? These are all questions that drivers won’t want answering after the event so in this post we’ll run through what you can expect the consequences for your drink driving offence will be.

The drink driving limit in England

For drivers in England, the legal limit can be measured in different ways, but they are all equal to each: –  35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or 107 milligrams per 100 millilitres of urine. As you would imagine, the limit varies depending on factors such as age, weight, sex and metabolism.

Drink driving penalties vary depending on the circumstances. Punishments will include a fine, community order (with requirements such as a curfew, unpaid work, or attendance on set programmes), or imprisonment. Disqualification is mandatory, except in certain rare circumstances.

Drink driving: Will I lose my licence?

The mandatory disqualification is for a minimum of 12 months. The courts apply a set of guidelines with a sliding scale of increasing levels of disqualification based on the alcohol level and other relevant factors, such as the extent of bad driving.

This minimum disqualification period then increases to three years if you have incurred a similar conviction within the last 10 years and increases to a minimum of five years if you have two relevant convictions within the last 10 years.

It may be possible to reduce your ban length by undertaking a drink-drive rehabilitation course. High-risk offenders will need to pass a medical examination to get their licence back following a driving ban. A high-risk offender is someone who has been convicted of two drink-driving offences in the past 10 years or who has refused to give the police an alcohol sample when stopped.

Drink driving: Will I go to prison?

The penalties for being caught drink driving are severe and you could face a prison sentence of up to 6 months. However, this is generally reserved for serious offences.  When a fine or community order aren’t sufficient enough punishment for the case, imprisonment will be used. Disqualification will be imposed whatever other punishment is adopted.

A court may consider a custodial sentence for drink driving in circumstances such as where a person has previous convictions, high alcohol reading, a current charge relating to another motoring offence, or a history of road traffic collisions.

There are also a number of specific offences that give rise to even more severe penalties. For example, if you are involved in a crash which results in a person’s death whilst over the legal limit, you could receive a prison sentence of up to 14 years, an unlimited fine and a minimum two-year driving ban.

Drink driving: Will I lose my job?

Following your conviction, your employer may choose to dismiss you.

The first place to start is to read your employment contract. You should check this as soon as you are charged. You may be legally obliged to tell your employer of any proceedings or convictions, in which case you may be breaking the terms of your contract if you choose to withhold information. An employer who discovers that an employee has an undisclosed criminal conviction has the discretion to instigate disciplinary proceedings. Not all contracts have a clause like this but if your job involves driving then the employer will have to be told.

Another factor your employer may consider is your ability to get to work. If you lose your licence and cannot get to your place of work as a result, this may be a fundamental breach of your contract and may mean loss of employment.

Many companies will try to hold onto a good employee by helping them to work around the problems associated with loss of a driving licence.  The longer the ban, the harder it is for companies to hold onto people who cannot perform their duties. The more your job requires driving, the less likely it will be that you will keep your job.

Criminal defence solicitors in Leicestershire

Drink driving cases always involve consideration of a detailed procedure that must be followed closely by the police; our expert criminal defence team will be able to advise whether there is a good legal argument for you to use in order to win your case, and can advise on the representations that can decrease the severity of a penalty.

Drink driving cases are very serious and can have a severe and long-lasting impact on both your personal and professional life. To limit the impact of such charges, you’ll need an experienced and knowledgeable solicitor on your side. Speak to a member of our expert criminal defence team, based in Leicester and Hinckley today.

Leicester call us on 0116 254 8871.

Hinckley call us on 01455 639 900.