Excess alcohol (driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle). Contrary to Road Traffic Act 1988, s.5.1(1)(a).
This offence is triable summarily, which means that the hearing can only take place at the Magistrates’ Court. I usually attend the following Magistrates’ Courts to represent drivers charged with drink driving offences: Reigate/Redhill; Guildford; Aldershot; Staines. If there is to be an appeal, the matter is heard at the Crown Court, in this area it will be Guildford Crown Court. If there is a question of law to be addressed, the matter can be heard at the High Court. For all practical purposes, the magistrates will deal with the matter. If you are required to attend the Magistrates’ Court charge with a drink driving offence, expect the matter to be dealt with on the first appearance. If for any reason there is a delay in the sentencing, for example, probation reports are ordered, the court can consider an interim disqualification. For all practical purposes, you are advised not to expect to be able to drive away from the court!
The maximum penalty is a level 5 fine (presently £5,000) and/or six months imprisonment.
The court must endorse the driving license of the offender and disqualify for at least 12 months. The period of disqualification is at least two years, if the offender has had two or more disqualifications for periods of 56 days or more in the preceding three years. The disqualification must be for at least three years if the offender has been convicted of another drink drive offence in the last 10 years.
The period of disqualification will depend upon the level of alcohol contained in the body of the driver, which is measured by taking a sample of breath, blood or urine.