Unfit Through Drink

Driving or attempting to drive whilst unfit through drink

  • Under section 4(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 it is an offence for a person to drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place whilst unfit to drive through drink.

Driving whilst unfit is a serious offence. If the police are alleging that you were unfit, it is crucial that you consider your options prior to the first court hearing, as it is possible that you have been charged with the wrong offence. Due to the similarities between driving whilst unfit and drink driving, the police often get confused between the two. If you provided a breath, blood or urine sample over the prescribed limit at the police station, you should be charged with drink driving, not driving whilst unfit.

Of course, it is always open to the police to charge you with driving whilst unfit even where an evidential sample has been provided. But there is little sense in doing this as it is much harder to prove that you were ‘impaired’ than proving that you were over the limit. In the majority of cases that M.A.J. Law defend, the CPS will realise the mistake made by the police and attempt to amend the charge to drink driving. However, this may not be as simple as it sounds, particularly if trying to amend a charge after the first court hearing. An inaccurate or defective charge can lead to a failed prosecution, so it is crucial that we don’t ‘tip’ the CPS off.

If you think you may have been charged with the wrong offence, please call us immediately. The earlier the team at M.A.J. Law can intervene, the earlier we can safeguard your position and identify the defence strategy.

Proving that you were ‘impaired’

To achieve a conviction, the CPS must prove that you were ‘impaired’ as a result of the alcohol consumed. To do this, they may need evidence that;

  • You were unsteady on your feet
  • Your speech was slurred
  • You smelt of intoxicants
  • Your eyes were glazed
  • You provided a positive breath sample
  • Your driving was erratic
  • You failed a Field Impairment Test

“through drink”

The difficulty for the CPS arises when trying to prove that any impairment was as a consequence of any alcohol consumed. What if you were impaired because you were tired? Or because of a drug that had been consumed, whether illicit or not. This may be the reason why you were driving erratically. This may amount to a defence.

Our team would be happy to discuss your case in detail with you, completely free of charge. You may not realise that you have a full defence to the allegation. Please call us immediately.

Penalty

The minimum penalty for driving whilst unfit is a 12 month disqualification. The maximum penalty is 6 months imprisonment. The court has the option to impose an immediate disqualification up to 36 months and a fine up to £5,000.00.
The court also has the option to impose a community service order.

The penalty imposed will depend upon your level of impairment. It is for this reason that you take the opportunity to consider the evidence against you (which may not be provided on the first court date). You may dispute the facts alleged by the police (who may exaggerate your level of impairment). This, of course, would have a direct bearing on the penalty imposed if convicted. Our team have the technical expertise to secure your acquittal.

 

M.A.J. Law are a leading motoring defence practice

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0151 422 8020

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