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What Is The Price of A Drink Driving Conviction?

What Is The Price of a Drink Driving Conviction? 

 

Most of us have seen the anti drink drive TV adverts they roll out every Christmas Season of the bartender playing the many parts – the boss, the motor trader, the defendant… but what about the actual cost.  The financial hidden cost? 

 

We are often contacted by people desperate to save their licence.  They say they need their licence to do their job, they need it to get their children to and from school and activities, or they need it to act as a carer for an elderly relative. None of these are reasons for the court not to disqualify you, nor to avoid a conviction. To do either of these there needs to be legal grounds. 

 

I was contacted last week by a gentleman who was convicted of Drink Driving back in 2012. He was disqualified from driving, he was offered and completed the Drink Drive Rehabilitation course, he had served his sentence, paid his fine, got his licence back and was doing his very best to move forward with his life. 

 

Then he received an email from his former Insurance Company. The Insurer who held the policy at the time of his arrest. 

 

You see for this particular gentlemen the incident that called him to the attention of the police was that he had an accident.  He had an accident, he was breathalysed at the scene and he was found to be over the limit. 

 

The conviction for Drink Driving meant that his Insurers did not need to pay out for the damage to his own vehicle but his understanding was that, under the terms and conditions of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and agreement between the Motor Insurers Bureau and Department of Transport that the third party claim would be honoured. What he failed to realise was that these provisions also allow the Insurer to pursue him for these costs. 

 

Last week he received an email requesting payment of almost £35,000. Yes, you read that correctly, almost £35,000. To break it down for you a little further they were seeking recovery of costs calculated as follows: 

 

* £10,000 Legal costs 

* £13,000 Uninsured losses 

* £2000 NHS Charges 

* £10,000 Damage and hire 

 

You may think this is excessive, that it must have been a massive accident with high value vehicles and significant personal injury – but this is not necessarily the case. The sums included in these matters add up very quickly. Imagine the injured party is off work for a couple of weeks, they need physio for a whiplash injury plus the initial consultation, maybe they are prescribed medication, they need to attend a couple of doctor’s appointments, possibly even attend the hospital for an x-ray.  Did they have child car seats in the vehicle?  These have to be replaced.

 

Everything adds up – and fast. 

 

At Forrest Williams we never advise a client that they should plead Not Guilty unless we believe they have grounds to do so. What we will do is assess the evidence against you. We will talk with you. We will listen to you. And then we will advise you as to what we believe is the best course of action for you and you alone – we do not have a one size fits all service – we offer bespoke advice for each individual client, taking all of your individual circumstances into account.  But we would always advise that the evidence against you is, at the very least, checked, because we understand just how serious – and expensive – a drink driving conviction can be.

 

If you are charged with an offence give our offices a call on 01623 600645 and we would be happy to talk with you about your situation and advise you further.

 

Can you afford not to?

Police Station Representation For Drink Driving Clients

We recently acted for a client charged with Drink Driving at Leicester Magistrates Court.  Throughout his conversations with us he maintained that he was not guilty of the offence, and that he only consumed alcohol after he had driven. In short his story to us was that he had purchased the alcohol, driven, parked up and then drank it. He had always intended to sleep where he was as had had a fight with his partner earlier so was going to stay away for a bit.

 

Post driving consumption is a defence to Drink Driving.

 

We therefore entered a Not Guilty plea and the matter was adjourned to trial.  As part of the case preparation we took a statement from the client, and we interrogated all the evidence against our client. Initially it seemed to be quite a strong case – the police even had the bottle the client said he had been drinking from and we had a statement from the Police Officer involved to confirm that they had confiscated the bottle.

 

Unfortunately the client was found Guilty of the offence, with the court highlighting that the most damaging evidence was that of his own words. When asked under interview, our client had twice denied drinking anything after driving.  Our client’s reason for this, to us, was that he was drunk and probably either misunderstood the question or didn’t want to make things worse for himself. He maintained his position that he only drank after parking up and that he had not intended to drive for several hours, not until he would have been legal to do so.

 

The warning when you are arrested does state that anything you say can be used in evidence in court and in this case it was and this was the evidence that the court focused on. Everyone, regardless of charge, is entitled to legal representation at the station if they are to be interviewed. We would always remind our clients to take advantage of this right, and to remember that if you have nothing to hide then be open and honest about this. Saying No Comment when you have a valid defence can be just as damaging as the courts will ask why you didn’t tell the police important facts at the time.

 

If you are arrested for an offence give our team a call on 01623 600645.  We can arrange for police station representation to guide you through the interview process and to try and ensure that nothing you say, or don’t say, can later be used against you to undermine your defence.

Is Intoxication A Defence?

But I was drunk. I didn’t mean to. I would never have done that sober. I didn’t know what I was doing.

 

So when is intoxication actually a defence?

 

First we must distinguish between intoxication by alcohol and intoxication by drugs, here I will consider alcohol intoxication. There can be a perception that intoxication causes offences – indeed British Crime Survey Statistics actually look for alcohol related crime but this can be misleading.

 

‘Alcohol-related crime’ is a popular rather than a legal term. Normally, it is used to refer to 2 main categories of offences:

 

  • Alcohol-defined offences such as drunkenness offences or driving with excess alcohol
  • Offences in which the consumption of alcohol is thought to have played a role of some kind in the committing of the offence, usually in the sense that the offender was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

 

The law likes to confuse matters, nothing is straight forward and what may help you in one situation may not in others. Intoxication from drinks or drugs is not, per se, a defence but it may, in certain circumstances, support an argument that your case should be considered in a different light than it may previously have been. The circumstances and situations in which intoxication can be considered are far too vast to consider in one article so please continue reading here for the next instalment.

 

The law gives no clear definition or consistent threshold for “intoxication” – just lots of mentions. We all know that what will render one “legless” will have little effect on another so the law will take each case on it’s own merits. Intoxication is also considered as either voluntary or involuntary; voluntary generally accepted as knowingly consuming the substance with involuntary more complicated. Involuntary doesn’t mean you didn’t know you were taking it (though can mean exactly that) it can also mean that the substance (potentially legal and even prescribed) consumed had an unforeseen effect.

 

What is found below is in no way exhaustive but may help to give you an idea of where you stand.

 

Motoring:

 

In motoring offences there are 3 main offences relating to intoxication (in laymans terms):

 

  • Drink Driving
  • Drunk in charge
  • Unfit through Drink or Drugs

 

Offences created through the Road Traffic Act 1998 (so those above) are considered a strict liability offence – meaning that you either are over the limit or you are not. The law states that the legal limit in breath is 35µg in 100µg of breath (or the equivalent in blood or urine). Driving offences are one of the few areas where a definitive limit can be found however even if you are found to be over the limit there may still be grounds for the court not to disqualify you. If the intoxication was involuntary then there may be Special Reasons for the courts not to disqualify you.

 

At Forrest Williams we promise to listen to you, to advise you honestly, and to help you in any way the law allows. Give our team a call on 01623 600645 and we will work with you to get the best outcome possible for your case.

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