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Three Tips To Avoid A Drink Drive Arrest

February 22, 2017 by in category Drink Driving, Drunk In Charge, Failing To, News with 0 and 0
Home > News > Drink Driving > Three Tips To Avoid A Drink Drive Arrest
tips to avoid a drink driving arrest

By Jeanette Miller

Geoffrey Miller Solicitors specialise in representing motorists for all manner of motoring offences. One of the main areas of law we come across is that of drink driving.

As impressive as our success rates in defending drink driving cases may be, Managing Director, Jeanette Miller, gives us some tips on how to avoid needing her number in the first place!

1. Don’t use units as a guide

One of the biggest causes of drink driving, is ignorance of the law and how alcohol is eliminated from the system.

Alcohol is normally measured in “units” of 10 mg of alcohol. This is the amount of alcohol contained a half-pint of beer of 3.5% ABV, a single 25 mg pub measure of spirits, or a small 125 mg glass of light table wine.

The rate of absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream is unpredictable and depends on a number of factors such as the level of hydration, the type of alcoholic drink consumed and whether food is eaten at the same time. As a broad rule of thumb, the alcohol in a drink is fully absorbed about an hour after the drink is finished.

One unit is normally referred to as a glass of wine or a measure of spirit or a half-pint of beer.

The main problem with using this method of calculation is knowing exactly how much you have had to drink. The strength of beers varies tremendously, in pubs you get a measure of wine, whereas if you drink at home the glass size can vary.

This is a very unreliable way of calculating the level of alcohol within your body: Advice is very generalised and everyone’s body reacts in different ways, making it impossible to tell how much alcohol is in your system without taking a breath test.

It is also important to remember that a half pint of beer or a glass of wine can contain considerably more than one unit. Given that most pubs serve draught beer 5 to 10% under measure, it is fairly safe to assume a half of any beer up to around 4% represents one unit. But, any higher than that, and you have to make adjustments. A pint of 5% beer is almost three units!

In addition to this, the 33 cl bottles of “designer lagers” that are so popular are usually between 5% and 5.5% ABV, meaning that each bottle is likely to contain almost two units.

The risks with wine are even greater. Many pubs and restaurants serve wine in 175 ml or even 225 ml glasses, rather than 125 ml. A 175 ml glass of wine of 12% ABV, which is fairly typical, represents two units. Two such glasses could put a petite woman over the limit. An increasing number of pubs are now also serving spirits in 35 mg measures, containing 1.4 units, rather than 25 mg which is exactly one unit.

2. Know The Legal Limit

35µg alcohol per litre of breath

The current drink drive limit in the UK is 35µg alcohol per litre of breath, which, despite my advice not to consider units as a guide, is equivalent to one pint of beer which is 3.5% abv or half a pint of 5% abv beer or a 125ml glass of average strength (11%) wine or a 25ml measure of spirits.

This applies to people of average weight (around 12-13 st for men, 9-10 st for women). If you are particularly small, these amounts should be reduced accordingly. But if you are particularly big, it is no guarantee that you can drink more before you would be over the limit.

Many people think that when they get in their car ‘the morning after’ they will be safe to legally drive, but will they?

Take a Saturday night’s drinking:

  • At midnight you may have 200 milligrams alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in your system.

This is 2½ times the drink drive limit

  • At 7.30 a.m. there will still be 90 milligrams per 100 millilitres in your system – you are still over the drink-drive limit
  • By lunchtime you will still have about 20 milligrams within your system, not above the limit but still enough to adversely affect your driving.

Because of shift rotas or flexi-time systems many people are often at work before 7 a.m. If they have been drinking on the previous evening they may still be over the limit when driving to work.

3. Plan Ahead

plan ahead drink drivingMany clients we help wish they could turn back time! The circumstances leading to their arrest have arisen because of poor planning and unforeseen events such as an argument with a partner. Poor judgement is another major cause of a driver’s decision to get behind the wheel when intoxicated.

So many people we come across simply do not appreciate the penalties for drink driving. Even if you are wheelchair bound and your driving licence is your lifeline, if convicted of drink driving, there is NO DISCRETION to allow you to continue to drive based on how difficult your life will be without your licence.

For any offence of driving or attempting to drive while over the prescribed alcohol limit, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of one year’s disqualification. This can only be waived in very exceptional circumstances, known as “special reasons”, such as if the offence was committed in response to a medical emergency. The fact that you would lose your job is not sufficient grounds for the Magistrates not to impose a disqualification.  A first offender will also receive a fine, typically around £300 – £500.

Magistrates have the power to impose longer periods of disqualification and are increasingly making use of this power. The maximum sentence that can be imposed for driving with excess alcohol is an unlimited disqualification and fine, and a 6-month prison sentence, something that is not as widely appreciated as it should be.

The minimum and maximum penalties for refusing a breath, blood or urine test at the police station are identical to those for a “standard” drink drive offence. However, the courts are likely to impose penalties well above the minimum for this offence – often a ban of eighteen months or two years – as refusal to give a sample can clearly be used to conceal a very high blood-alcohol level.

There are also various charges relating to being over the limit and “in charge” of a vehicle, but not driving or attempting to drive it. These do not carry mandatory disqualification, although the penalties can still be severe, typically 10 penalty points. The police often take a very broad view of attempting to drive and being ‘in charge’- for example a man who was sat in the driver’s seat of a car but did not have the right key for the car, was convicted of attempting to drive, and disqualified (Kelly v Hogan [1982] RTR 352).

Whilst these tips are intended to help inform and prevent offending, we have to say that the only safe way to drive is not to drink.

Geoffrey Miller Solicitors are a firm specialising in the niche area of motoring law, defending drivers nationwide. We represent drivers for all types of motoring offences including alcohol related offences.

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Geoffrey Miller Solicitors are specialists defending drivers nationwide for all types of driving offences. Call our team of expert driving offence solicitors for some free initial advice.

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Geoffrey Miller Solicitors is a trading name of Jeanette Miller Law Limited, a Limited Company Registered in England and Wales. Company No: 8214795.
Registered Office: Riverside House Kings Reach Business Park, Yew Street, Stockport, United Kingdom, SK4 2HD.
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