Typically, a person convicted of driving with excess alcohol will know when their disqualification ends, but the high-risk offender scheme removes this certainty for numerous offenders.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no ‘right’ to hold a driving licence, merely by having passed a driving test, and not otherwise being disqualified. The Secretary of State for Transport has the right, where the circumstances justify it, to withhold a licence.
One of the circumstances where this arises is after a drink drive conviction if the offender is deemed ‘high-risk’.
What is a high-risk offender?
The high-risk offender scheme applies to drivers convicted of the following:
one disqualification for driving or being in charge of a vehicle when the level of alcohol in the body equalled or exceeded either one of these measures:
87.5 mcg per 100 ml of breath
200.0 mg per 100 ml of blood
267.5 mg per 100 ml of urine
(so approximately 2.4 times the legal limit)
two disqualifications within the space of 10 years for drink-driving or being in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
one disqualification for refusing or failing to supply a specimen for alcohol analysis (a quick reminder – always provide a specimen if asked – the penalties for not doing are far worse!)
one disqualification for refusing to give permission for a laboratory test of a specimen of blood for alcohol analysis.
If I fall into one of those categories, what does it mean?
It means that at the end of your disqualification period, your licence will not be returned….so you cannot legally drive unless you are medically assessed and found to be suitable to have it returned.
How do I get my licence back?
There will need to be a medical assessment of your suitability to hold a driving licence; this will consist of:
serum CDT testing to assess if there is chronic alcohol consumption
any further testing indicated.
If a licence is awarded, the licence is restored for Group 1 car and motorcycle driving. Consideration may be given to a Group 2 licence.
If a high-risk offender has a previous history of alcohol dependence or persistent misuse but has satisfactory examination and blood tests, a short period licence is issued for ordinary and vocational entitlement but is dependent on their ability to meet the standards as specified.
A high-risk offender found to have a current history of alcohol misuse or dependence and/or unexplained abnormal blood test results will have the application refused.
What does this mean in practice?
You need, if you are regularly consuming large quantities of alcohol (which may be much less than you believe it to be), to reduce your intake significantly, otherwise, this pattern of alcohol abuse will reveal itself when the blood sample is analysed (for liver function markers). So a lifestyle change will be needed.
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