Christmas is two weeks away. Christmas parties will be booked and work will be winding down.

As with previous years, there is a national police initiative concerning drink driving, as forces across the country prepare for a spike in the numbers of those tested and arrested for drink and drug driving offences.

While these offences may not seem particularly serious when viewed against other offences, what is not often understood is the real impact that a conviction can have.

Loss of a licence leads in a great many cases to loss of employment, in turn to loss of housing as bills cannot be paid, and sometimes it is the final straw that breaks a relationship. The financial costs will be felt for many years thereafter as insurance premiums will be greatly increased.

In some cases, for example where the driver is significantly over the drink drive limit, or has been convicted previously, the Court is likely to order that tens or hundreds of hours of unpaid work in the community be completed (community service). In the worst cases, a sentence of imprisonment may be given.

What we also see is that a great many people come before the courts with alcohol readings that are not high, and where offences have been detected the ‘morning after’. Offences that can be said to have been committed perhaps more out of ignorance than a wilful disregard for others. A single error of judgment with devastating consequences.

What is a safe level of drinking if I propose to drive?

No alcohol is the safest level as it ensures that when you get behind the wheel, your reactions are not impaired to any degree at all. This is a time when roads may be icy and pedestrians and even other drivers may have been drinking – our best advice is that if you have a single drink, then leave your car.

Guesswork and reliance on urban myths has led to many people ending up before the courts during the festive season, year after year.

The commonly held belief that ‘2 pints are okay’ have long since been proved to be false, as crude calculations as to how long it takes alcohol to leave the body, or how much one has had to eat.

Different people will deal with alcohol in different ways, and even this can vary for a single person depending on a multitude of factors including size, metabolism, age, previous consumption. Do not try and guess and do not base your decision on what your friend n the pub thinks he has once read.

Merely feeling OK to drive is not a reliable indicator as to whether you are below the legal limit or not.

If you are stopped by the police do not refuse to provide a specimen of breath (or blood or urine) if required. The penalties for refusing are more serious than the penalties for drink driving.

As we get merry, we reach a tipping point; we can make foolish choices that will prove costly, sometimes not just measured in financial terms but in injury and even loss of life.

Think, before you drink and drive. You owe it to other road users, your family and yourself.

How we can assist

If you do find yourself in trouble, there is a lot we can do to assist.

The police must follow complex procedures to establish a case against you – we can ensure that this has been done.

We can also investigate issues such as ‘laced drinks’ and ‘special reasons’.

Well-presented mitigation can make a real difference to the outcome and even where a disqualification cannot be avoided, we can often achieve a reduction in length.

However please play it safe – we would rather not hear from you this Christmas.


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