Drink or Drug Driving carries a mandatory minimum 12 month disqualification. Depending on the breath reading provided and/or the circumstances of the alleged offence, this can increase beyond 5 years. When passing sentence, the magistrates will consider whether any factors indicate higher culpability and/or a greater degree of harm. The Sentencing Counsel advises that the magistrates should send an offender to prison in the “most serious cases”. They go on to state that;
However, aggravating features are only considered in sentencing (following a conviction). This means that for the purposes of the proceedings, having a child in the car won’t make a great deal of difference. If you avoid a conviction, there is no risk of a prison sentence.
When creating an Act of Parliament, the government must consider what problem (or mischief) the act aims to abolish. In 1872 it became an offence to be drunk while in charge of carriages, horses, cattle and steam engines! Even then, the government recognised the need to protect the public from serious harm (or worse). It wasn’t until 1967 when the government introduced the first maximum blood alcohol limit, did people start to take notice.
It is for this reason why drink or drug driving with a child in the car is so serious. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of society and the law serves to protect them. If the courts believe that a child’s safety has been jeopardised, to the extent that they could have been killed or seriously injured, then a harsher penalty will follow.
If you have been charged with a serious motoring offence and had a child in the car, it is important that you contact us immediately. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking the magistrates will ‘go easy’ on you if you tell them about your situation; they’ve heard it a million times. If the guidelines advise a prison sentence, the magistrates must take this into consideration.