Prison Sentences

Custodial Sentence for Drink Driving

Drink driving is an imprisonable offence, which means that, depending on the severity of your case, you could be issued with a custodial sentence as a result of a drink driving conviction.

You may receive a custodial prison sentence for drink driving if your offence surpasses the ‘custody threshold’. The custody threshold is reached when a fine, community sentence and/or licence points alone are not severe enough as punishment for an offence, and custody – i.e. imprisonment – must be considered as a sentence.

The magistrates may consider imposing a custodial drink driving sentence in any of the following circumstances:

  • You have one or more relevant previous convictions
    By relevant, we mean a motoring offence of any kind (other than a speeding related offence) – usually within the last 10 years. The more recent the conviction, the more relevant it becomes. It’s crucial that your solicitor distinguishes the ‘modus operandi’ (the circumstances of the offence). Please be aware that the court will not know about your previous conviction(s) unless the CPS successfully introduce ‘bad character’ evidence.
  • You provided a high alcohol reading or you failed to provide a specimen
    The higher the alcohol reading provided, the more likely the magistrates are to consider imposing a prison sentence. Any ‘fail to provide’ allegation is just as likely to attract a serious penalty, especially if the CPS can show a deliberate refusal to provide a specimen and evidence of serious impairment.
  • You have also been charged, at the same time, with another motoring offence
    If, for example, you were disqualified at the time of the offence, or you did not have insurance, then this will aggravate the offence as a whole.
  • There is evidence of serious impairment
    It may be clear from witness evidence, or CCTV, that you were heavily intoxicated, even if you failed to provide a reading at the police station.
  • You were involved in a Road Traffic Collision
    Occasionally, it is a collision that leads to an arrest. Even if the collision was not your fault, it will still be considered by the court. If another person was injured, it is more than likely your case will surpass the custody threshold.
  • Other aggravating features exist
    This could range from poor weather conditions to driving with a child in the vehicle.

Any case that does surpass the custody threshold has to be handled correctly, which is where the skills and experience of a trusted motoring defence lawyer can make all the difference.The quality of your representation is key. A good solicitor believes in their client and presents a clear and convincing argument. By finding fault with the evidence against you, we may be able to avoid a conviction entirely – thereby avoiding a custodial sentence.

Alternative Penalties

It’s no secret that prisons are overcrowded. In fact, prison sentences for drink driving are often a last resort for this reason. If your case does surpass the custody threshold, there is a chance that the magistrates may consider an alternative sentence in place of a prison sentence. Alternative penalties can include:

  • Suspended sentence
  • Unpaid work
  • Being subject to a curfew (tag)
  • A fine.

To find out more about drink driving sentences, please see our ‘Drink Driving Penalties‘ guide in the Resources section.

Drink Driving Review

Many people think that entering a guilty plea on the first court date will help them to avoid a prison sentence. However, in reality this simply isn’t true. The Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Council states that credit for an early guilty plea will relate to the length of a custodial sentence, but it will not relate to the likelihood of a custodial sentence being imposed. In short, pleading guilty will not help you to avoid prison.

If your case surpasses the custody threshold, the only benefit that you will gain by entering a guilty plea at the first hearing is that your prison sentence will be reduced by 30%. Indeed, the majority of people would rather avoid a custodial sentence altogether. It’s important to remember you will not be entitled to see all the evidence against you at the first hearing. This mean that you will be entering a guilty plea without really knowing what evidence the CPS has against you, or what the police are alleging you to have done.

It’s only by entering a not guilty plea that will you force the CPS to provide the evidence against you (usually within 28 days). In our experience at M.A.J. Law, many clients’ cases have been dropped by them entering a pleas of ‘not guilty’, due to the CPS being unable to provide the evidence required to continue the prosection. 

Always consider your options before entering a plea.

M.A.J. Law has an exceptional track record of keeping our clients out of prison, and mitigation is one of the ways in which we do this. You have the right to put mitigation to the court before the magistrates pass a sentence. The objective of mitigation is to persuade the court to impose the most lenient sentence. In this situation, the court will consider a number of factors when determining your sentence, including:

  • Employment circumstances
  • Family matters
  • Explanation of any previous convictions
  • Character references
  • Drug rehabilitation or voluntary alcohol treatment.

If you would like to learn more about mitigation, and how M.A.J. Law could help your case, please click here.

When you have been charged with a motoring offence – drink driving especially – the next step that you should take is to find the right solicitor for your case. Obviously you could have potentially hundreds of options available to you, so it’s difficult to know what to look for in a drink driving solicitor. So, as experts in the industry, we recommend that you consider the following before making your decision:

  • Is the solicitor a specialist in motoring defence?
  • Is the solicitor a specialist in handling drink driving cases specifically?
  • Is the solicitor available outside of office hours and over the weekend?
  • Will the solicitor charge you for initial advice?
  • Does the solicitor offer fixed fees?
  • Can the solicitor provide testimonials from other clients?
  • What is the solicitor’s overall success rate?

It’s important to remember that not all solicitors are made equal, and inadvertently instructing an inexperienced or non-specialist for your drink driving case could be the difference between receiving a sentence and the case being dropped.

Remember, M.A.J. Law will not charge you for initial advice, so call for your no obligation chat today.

We understand that you may have a number of options for a drink driving solicitor, and ultimately the decision is up to you.

If you do decide to instruct M.A.J. Law, you’ll benefit from the following:

  • Transparent, fixed fee pricing structure
    No matter how complicated your case may get, or how long it may carry on for.
  • Advice regarding other potential costs
    We’ll help you to foresee other expenses, so you don’t get a nasty surprise along the way.
  • An experienced team of drink driving specialist solicitors
    We’re motoring offence specialists, which means we know motoring law inside and out.
  • Testimonials from past clients
    See for yourself how we’ve helped clients in the past.
  • Cost recovery service
    Our team can process your Defence Costs Order immediately after a case is won.
  • Trust, honesty, and hard work
    We approach every case with positivity and determination & will never ‘throw in the towel’.

Get advice from the experts

M.A.J. Law offer a free initial advice service, so that you can speak to an expert with no obligation.
Call on of the team on:

0151 422 8020

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