Christmas 2021 and Drink Driving

December 13, 2021 11:18 am Published by

With the festive period and Christmas 2021 well on their way, it is clear that there is always Christmas merriment and cheer to be found. Christmas and New Year are popular for being the festive seasons – of parties, family events and seeing friends which sometimes involve a lot of drinking for the individual. When you add up the additional social events, the catch ups with distant loved ones, working late at work and rushing to get everything finished before the Christmas holidays, it is easy to see why the UK’s alcohol intake dramatically increases over the festive period.

The Offence

Drink driving is a serious offence which can result in a person being imprisoned for twelve months as standard. According to the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 4(1), it is an offence to drive or attempt to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle when unfit to do so, due to the influence drink. Section 4 states that a “person who, when driving or attempting to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place, is unfit to drive through drink is guilty of an offence.”

If a person is charged with being in charge of a vehicle whilst above the legal drink limit or unfit to drive under the influence of drink, the possible penalties include three months of imprisonment, up to £2,500 fine and a possible driving ban. If a person is charged with driving or attempting to drive while above the legal drink limit or unfit because of drink, the possible penalties include six months of imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a driving ban for at least one year, but this can be increased to three years if the accused has been convicted for drink driving twice in ten years.

A drink driving offence is triable and can result in a person being imprisoned, receiving a ban from driving and face paying a fine if a person is found guilty of drink driving. An individual may be able to reduce their driving ban by taking a drink-drive rehabilitation scheme course (a DDRS) if they have been banned from driving for twelve months or more. However, this is left to the court to offer this to the accused if they are found to be guilty of the offence.

Drink Driving Statistics

If you have had the unfortunate experience of being caught drink driving during the festive period or afterwards, you have come to the right place. Statistics show that cases of drink driving spike throughout the festive season. For example, it was found that over 5500 drivers were caught drink driving by the police. In areas such as North Yorkshire, it was found that approximately one hundred people are killed or injured in a collision involving a driver who was impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Statistics also show that the percentage of motorists caught drink-driving in 2017 was 2% up from 2016. The figures also show that men are five times more likely to be caught drink-driving than women. In fact, 34886 men were caught over the legal alcohol limit, compared to 7061 women in 2017. It was also found that an average of 666 people were killed in drink driving related accidents in Great Britain each year. An average of 3,551 people were seriously injured in drink driving related accidents in Great Britain each year. More recent figures show that there has been a 18.7% increase in drink related deaths in 2020 compared to 2019, partly due to the series of national lockdowns.

How does alcohol affect each person?

Unfortunately, there is no fool-proof way of drinking alcohol and ensuring that you are below the legal drinking limit. Last year, one of the main messages being given out across police forces across the United Kingdom to the public was that individuals should be aware of how much they are drinking and how long it takes the body to get rid of it.

The general rule is that people should allow one hour per unit before they drive again and keep track of how much they are drinking because it’s easy to become unfit to drive without realising it. For example, four pints of an average lager may have at least 12 units of alcohol. That means at least 12 hours after the last drink before driving again. Two glasses of wine may have six units, needing at least six hours before driving.

Therefore, it is very important that you are also aware of how much you have had to drink the night before when you must drive early in the morning. As stated above, it takes approximately one hour for one unit of alcohol to fully pass through the body system.

It is key to remember that the amount of alcohol an individual would need to drink to be considered over the legal drinking limit varies from person to person. How alcohol affects a person is dependent on the individual’s weight, age, sex, metabolism, the type and amount of alcohol that the individual has drunk, what the individual has eaten, and the individual’s stress levels at the time. Even small quantities of alcohol can affect an individual’s ability to drive so the only sound advice that can be given is to avoid any consumption of alcohol if you are driving.

Consider Public Transport.

There are also plenty of other options for someone getting home. One of these alternatives is public transport which is available in most areas, and you can be transported safely for a reasonable price. You can also get a taxi, Uber or other lift share services will give you the convenience of a door-to-door pick up. However, these services also come at an increased price cost, especially at Christmas and New Year when taxi firms increase their prices for late night pickups.

How can we help?

If you have been charged with driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, we are here to help. We can provide you with our expert defence team to represent your case in court and help you avoid a potentially damaging criminal record.

We will look at all the facts of the accusation and decide what defence against the driving offence is best for your case. This will also include everything from the facts of the case all the way to whether your actions actually amounted to a criminal act.

Our team of litigators and advocates have many years of experience analysing complex factual scenarios and applying them to often novel areas of law. This ensures that we get the best possible results for our clients. Please do not hesitate to call us on 0208 059 0010 or email us on info@drivingsolicitors.co.uk to get expert legal advice for you and your case.