Drink drive/ ‘in charge’

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There is an important distinction between excess alcohol whilst driving, and excess alcohol whilst “in charge” of a vehicle. The distinction becomes clear when looking at the sentencing guidelines. The emphasis in the guidelines when it is a case of “in charge” is on imposing penalty points rather than disqualifying.
It is an offence for a person to be in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place while unfit through drink or drugs (section 4(2) Road Traffic Act 1972). It is, however, a defence if the defendant can prove that there was no likelihood of driving whilst unfit.
The meaning of “in charge” within the drink/driving legislation applies in two broad categories. Firstly, if the defendant had recently driven the vehicle but was no longer doing so, at what stage did he relinquish his control of the vehicle? Secondly, if the defendant was not the owner or recent driver but was sitting in the vehicle, the question is whether he had assumed charge of it.
The distinction, and the outcome, can hang on very subtle points of law.
As with all areas of the common law, a series of cases has built up to distinguish and clarify the circumstances that apply in a particular case. Any quality lawyer, solicitor or barrister will have access to those authorities. If you are appearing before the Magistrates in Guildford, Staines, Redhill or Aldershot, contact us to access that quality service.

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