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Avoiding disqualification if accused of being unfit to drive
Anyone who is in charge of a vehicle while unfit to drive through excess alcohol or drugs and found guilty can face a penalty of ten points, with the possibility of disqualification, fines and even a prison term depending on the seriousness of the offence.
However, avoiding disqualification is a possibility in many cases depending on the situation because there is no legal definition of ‘being in charge'. Generally, an owner can be described as in charge if he or she is in possession of, or has recently driven, the vehicle.
In a number of drink-driving cases, defendants have found to be not ‘in charge' if they are passengers of their own vehicle and can prove not to have been driving, or at a distance from, it.
Attempting to enter the car, having its keys or being near enough to the car for any police officer to make a presumption of driving are all circumstances which could be tested in court but each case depends on particular circumstances.
There are other areas of the drink driving law, which are open to interpretation such as someone who is unfit to drive sitting in their car smoking a cigarette without it being driven or being asleep in it without the ignition keys.
A drink-driving case defendant who is driven by someone holding only a provisional licence will be deemed to be in charge and liable to prosecution because of the legal need to supervise the learner.
If there are any issues in this article that concern you then more detailed and specific advice relevant to your particular situation can be given through our fixed fee advice scheme. We will consider all the relevant documentation provided to us and can then advise you over the phone.
Unlike other organisations, you will be able to speak to an experienced lawyer who has actually represented defendants in Road Traffic Offence cases in court. That person will be either a senior solicitor or a Partner in this firm. The advice will then be confirmed in writing. You can, of course, choose to instruct us to represent you in relation to your case and we are able to cover road traffic cases on a national basis.
Partner and Head of Department
Business Crime, Regulation & Driving Offences