Drink driving penalties
Drinking and driving isn’t worth the risk. You could face life-changing penalties if you’re over the limit.
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Driving 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.
Yet, in 2019 in England and Wales alone, over 55,000 people were caught over the limit by the police.1
If you are found guilty of drink-driving you can be fined, banned from driving or even imprisoned.
Worse still, drink-driving can lead to casualties – An estimated 7,800 people were killed or injured in drink driving accidents in the UK in 2019.2
The safest advice is to avoid alcohol if you are planning on driving, even the morning after drinking alcohol.
Drink driving punishments depend on the seriousness of the offence.3
If you’re in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit, or unfit through drink:
If you drive, or attempt to drive while above the limit, or unfit through drink:
If you refuse to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis:
If you cause death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol:
‘High risk offenders’ 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:
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.
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.
Last Reviewed: 28th October 2021
Next Review due: 28th October 2024