Guide To Motoring Convictions – Drink Driving

Over the last three decades the number of motorists caught drink driving has fallen quite dramatically. However, despite this, approximately one in five motoring fatalities are drink related. Sadly, the death toll often involves passengers, people in other vehicles, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians too, impacting of course on the families of everyone concerned.

Statistics show that in 2009, 380 motorists were killed on the UK’s roads, 1,480 were seriously injured and over 10,000 suffered minor injuries in relation to drink drive incidents alone - a shocking set of statistics. Drink driving is still a major problem on UK roads and it is important for all motorists to be aware of the dangers it presents and the laws regarding it. Promoting awareness of the issues will hopefully encourage greater road safety.

The Law

The Road Traffic Act of 1988 allows the police to test any driver for drink driving who:

  • Is suspected to be driving or attempting to drive with alcohol in his/her system
  • Has committed a moving traffic offence
  • Has been involved in an accident
It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle on a public road with more than either:
  • 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath
  • 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood

In practice this means that two pints of regular strength lager or beer will tip drivers over the drink drive limit, as will two small glasses of wine. The challenge with these measures is that each individual is of course different, which makes calculating specific alcohol limits unreliable. The key factors affecting this are:

  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Stress levels
  • An empty stomach
  • Volume and type of alcohol

Because of these factors drivers cannot be certain that they are under the limit if they only have one pint of regular strength beer or one small glass of wine. To be absolutely certain that it is safe to drive; it is advisable to not drink at all, eliminating any risk.

Unfortunately, many motorists get behind the wheel of their car having had a glass or two, hoping that they are still under the limit. It is very easy to get it wrong and the consequences are very serious; a large fine; a driving ban or even a jail sentence. Not to mention the potential of injuring or worse, killing yourself or other road users and pedestrians. In addition, the prospect of finding car insurance will be significantly reduced as fewer companies are willing to insure convicted drivers and those that do will increase premiums significantly.

Offences and Penalties

Offence Penalties
Driving while unfit through excess alcohol or failing to provide a specimen for analysis. Up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000. Minimum of 12 months driving disqualification and a minimum of three years driving disqualification for a repeated offence.
Causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs. Up to 14 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. Minimum of two years disqualification.

Should an individual be charged with any drink driving offence they will receive a mandatory 12 month driving ban. Additional punishments will depend on the severity of the offence, the circumstances and the individual’s driving history.

If an individual has been convicted of any offence for which the sentence is more than two and a half years then this is known as an unspent conviction. The individual charged must always disclose an unspent conviction when asked about their criminal record. If a driver does not disclose this information at the time of applying for car or bike insurance they will be breaking the law.

How Does Alcohol Affect My Driving?

It has been scientifically proven that alcohol has a detrimental effect on an individual’s ability to drive safely. The effects of alcohol can:

  • Make it difficult to concentrate
  • Slow down reaction times
  • Reduce the ability to multi-task
  • Impair vision and hearing
  • Increase confidence and promote the taking of more risks
  • Promote relaxation – increased chance of falling asleep at the wheel
  • Make even the most simple task more difficult

Forget the Car and Get Home Safely

Drivers can always take it in turns with friends to be the designated driver if going out for the night. Although staying sober when the rest of your friends are drinking might not be quite as much fun, it may be the only way to ensure that everyone has a good time and gets home safely. Alternatively, use transportation such as buses, trains or a taxi. Failing that, book a hotel or bed and breakfast in the area you are going out in - this is an extra expense but could be money well spent!

Or, if you fancy something a little more alternative, why not try a “scooter man” service? In some areas in the UK a chauffeur service is provided by drivers who arrive where your car is parked on a folding scooter, fully insured and ready to drive you and your car home. The scooter is sealed in a bag and placed in the boot of the car while you are driven to your destination safely. For more information please visit

01/06/2012 09:00:06 Eren

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