Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offence. Being found guilty of driving while above the legal drink-driving alcohol limit will result in punishment that could affect the rest of your life.
Worse still, drink-driving can lead to casualties – an estimated 8,680 people were killed or injured in drink-drive accidents in 20181. The safest advice is to avoid alcohol if you are planning on driving, even the morning after drinking alcohol.
Drink driving offences and penalties
It is a criminal offence to drive while above the legal drink driving limit and the penalty will be decided by the magistrates who hear the case in court.1
To minimise the risks, including causing harm to yourself and others, the safest advice is to avoid any alcohol when driving.
If a person is found guilty of drink-driving they can be fined, banned from driving or even imprisoned.
These punishments depend on the seriousness of the offence which according to gov.uk include:
- Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink. This could result in three months’ imprisonment, up to £2,500 fine and a possible driving ban.
- Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink. A person could get six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a driving ban for at least one year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years).
- Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis. Refusal could lead to six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a ban from driving for at least one year.
- Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink. This could result in 14 years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a ban from driving for at least two years.
High risk offenders
‘High risk offenders’ will need to pass a medical examination to get their licence back after a drink driving ban. You are considered a high-risk offender if you:
- Were convicted of two drink-driving offences within 10 years
- Were driving with an alcohol reading of at least 87.5 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, 200 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or 267.5 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine
- Refused to give the police a sample of breath, blood or urine to test for alcohol
- Refused to allow a sample of your blood to be tested for alcohol (e.g. if it was taken when you were unconscious)
Drink driving convictions: the consequences
Being convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol has a number of effects on everyday life, beyond a drink driving fine or a driving ban.
You could lose your job, particularly if you drive for work as your employer will see this on your licence. You will have a criminal record. You may also find it difficult to seek employment in the future.
If and when you are legally allowed to drive again, it won’t be cheap. Car insurance costs increase significantly after a drink driving conviction.
As with any criminal record, you may even find it hard to enter other countries such as the USA and this can affect plans for taking holidays, working or studying abroad.
Are you drinking too much?
Drink driving isn’t worth the risks
In 2018 an estimated 8,680 people were killed or injured in drink drive accidents. By drinking and driving you immediately pose a threat to the safety of yourself, your passengers, other drivers and pedestrians. And if found guilty, the consequences could last a lifetime.
It’s not possible to know how much you can drink to stay below the legal drink driving limit. Your weight, gender, age, the state of your liver, how much food you’ve eaten: all of these factors will affect how your body processes alcohol. That’s why the safest advice is to avoid alcohol if you are driving, even the morning after drinking alcohol.
Learn how to report a drink driver