Drink Driving Ban


There are several possible drink driving offences. These range from driving or attempting to drive whilst unfit through drink or whilst in charge of a vehicle, to failing to supply a breath test or failing to supply a specimen.

What is the drink driving limit?

In the UK the current prescribed drink driving limit is:

  • 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath; or
  • 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood; or
  • 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine

What is the minimum penalty for a drink driving offence?

The penalty depends on the actual allegation. For being in charge of a vehicle, subject to the alcohol level and offence circumstances, the minimum penalty is 10 points. However, subject to to the alcohol level / circumstances, a mandatory ban of at least 12 months is imposed for driving or attempting to drive.

What is the minimum drink driving ban?

The length of disqualification is dependent upon the exact circumstances and the alcohol reading. This would normally start from 12 months when the reading is at the lowest end of the scale and there are no aggravating factors. The normal disqualification for failing to supply a specimen, is a minimum of 18 months.

What is the maximum penalty for driving under the influence?

If the Court takes the view that an offence is "so serious" that it can only be adequately punished by way of a prison sentence, then the Defendant can be sent to prison, even on the first offence. Clearly, "so serious" will depend upon the circumstances of the incident and the alcohol reading. Custodial sentences would normally be considered at readings of 116 ug breath / 265 mg of blood or 355 mg of urine.

At levels of 86 ug breath / 196 mg blood / 261 mg urine, community service is an option, as would a curfew order, but at lower levels, the ban will range from 12–36 months.

What if this is my second drink drive offence?

If there has been a previous drink driving offence within 10 years, a second offence will result in a disqualification of at least 36 months.

What if a driving ban will result in me losing my job?

Although this may affect the duration of the disqualification, it is most unlikely that it would result in a ban being avoided.

What other factors will the Court take into account?

The Court will consider both aggravating and mitigating factors. Aggravating factors will increase the length of a ban, and could include lack of co–operation, having children in the car, being involved in an accident etc. Mitigating factors can reduce the severity of the penalty and can include a previously good record, co–operation with the Police, early plea etc. It always makes sense to obtain expert legal advice to clarify how best to present a case.

Is there any benefit from instructing a lawyer if a driving ban is inevitable?

Yes. The length of disqualification is at the discretion of the Court and the information above is by way of a guideline only. It is important that at the hearing, the most compelling mitigation is put forward so it makes sense to obtain legal advice/representation. It is quite possible that the length of the ban can be reduced if a strong plea of mitigation is put forward. This will also result in a lower fine. Although the Court does have the option to reduce a ban by 25% if the Defendant attends a drink drive rehabilitation course, this is not automatic and the Court may take some persuading to allow this opportunity.

How long does a drink drive conviction stay on my driving licence?

The conviction will be valid for 10 years and can be removed from your licence 11 years after the event.