The Drink-Drive Conviction Process

When you are stopped by the police

Police officers can require anyone they suspect to be driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle to take a breathalyser test, regardless of any other circumstances. The suspect does not have to have been involved in an accident or committed a motoring offence.

Those who blow more than the legal limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, or refuse to take the test, will usually be arrested on suspicion of committing a drink driver offence. They will then be taken to a police station where they will be asked to provide two further specimens of breath into a larger evidential breathalyser machine. The lower of these two readings will be used as the ‘official’ reading. You will be asked a series of questions before this to ensure the test will be suitable and accurate.

Whilst everyone has the right to legal representation you cannot request to speak to a solicitor and then use the wait whilst they arrive and talk to you as a valid reason to delay providing the evidential samples. The only possible exception to this is if your solicitor is already at the police station and ready to speak (briefly) to you immediately. This is still not a given right, however, and it will be down to the police to decide whether to allow this to happen or if they require you to take the evidential test first.

If the lower of your samples is between 35 and 40 you may be released without caution or charge. If it is any higher than this, or if you refuse to supply a specimen of breath, you will almost certainly be charged, or bailed for further investigation. Before this, however, you will usually be held in a cell and tested again after a few hours (depending upon how high your reading was). This is because you must blow below 35 in order to be sober enough for the police to interview and you charge you with the relevant offence. As you are facing a driving ban you are entitled to speak to the duty solicitor before this interview, or your own solicitor if you prefer.

You will then be released from custody and will often leave the police station with notification to appear at the local magistrates court within a few days.

At the Magistrates Court

If you have not received any legal advice so far in the process, including from the duty solicitor at the police station, you can speak to the duty solicitor at the court – if they have one. If you wish to do this it is strongly recommended that you arrive at the court as soon as they open and speak to one of the ushers or court staff to make them aware of this.

Once your case is called you will be shown into the court where the prosecution solicitor will present the evidence against you. Your solicitor, or you if you are representing yourself, will then be allowed to put your case and any mitigation. 

After hearing all of this, and possibly after a recess to discuss the facts between them, the magistrates will pronounce your sentence. If, as is highly likely, you are banned from driving, you are likely to be offered a drink-drive rehabilitation course. This will help you explore the issues around alcohol, the circumstances leading up to your arrest as well as how to develop a plan and the tools to make better decisions in the future to avoid re-offending. Successful completion will also entitle you to a reduction in your ban of approximately 25% and could lead to lower insurance premiums when you get your licence back. You will be required to pay for this course, the fees are usually around £150 depending upon your needs and circumstances

If you agree to take part in the course the magistrates will ask you to say which company you would like to take your course with. You will then be required to surrender your licence if you haven’t done so already, agree how you will pay your fine and are then free to leave. The court will then send all of the necessary details about you to the company you have chosen for your rehabilitation course.

Whilst there are a number of companies you could chose from to sit your rehabilitation course with, SAFER DRIVING EDUCATION LTD. offer a choice of weekday or weekend courses that can be sat in person in a classroom venue, or sat at home via an online course delivered by Zoom. We offer discounts for early booking which bring the fee down from the standard £160 to £144 and also offer instalment plans starting from just £7.50 per month. We have limited spaces available from £90 for those in financial hardship as we are keen to give everyone the opportunity to reduce their risk of re-offending and get back on the road as soon as possible. If you feel you may qualify for one of these special discounts, please give us a call and we can discuss it with you.

For more information about the course, please see our ‘The DDR Scheme‘ page.

PLEASE NOTE: the above is only intended to give you an overview of the process. Every case will be different, if you need specific advice we recommend you speak to a specialist solicitor at the earliest opportunity.