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The law and procedure in drink driving cases can be very complex

A person is guilty of the offence of drink driving if he drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit.

It’s as simple as that, but the consequences of a conviction are serious. They range from a period of disqualification of 12 months to imprisonment, as well as many others such as job loss.

The prescribed or legal limits are:

  • 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood;
  • 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath;
  • 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.

It is worth remembering that these limits apply in England and Wales.

There is a separate offence of being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst over the limit known for short as being drunk in charge and this is dealt with separately.

The police have the power to require the provision of specimens of breath, blood or urine when investigating whether a drink drive offence has taken place. You may be asked to provide a specimen even though you know you were not the driver, but if the police require it as part of an investigation, it is an offence to refuse or to fail to provide a sample without a reasonable excuse. More information on this can be found on my failure to provide a specimen page.

The statutory power to require specimens is contained in Section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, and because the process is one in which drivers and suspected drivers are effectively being required to provide evidence against themselves there are legal and procedural safeguards built in to protect people. This means that the police must carefully follow proper procedure. If they don’t, prosecutions can become unsustainable.

Our expert solicitors and barristers Have a full knowledge and understanding of the requirements, knowing exactly what to look for in the prosecution evidence is key to identifying defences or ‘special reasons’ and then deploying them effectively in court.