Drunk in Charge of a Vehicle

Call 0345 872 6666

Drunk in Charge of a Vehicle

If you have been accused of being drunk in charge of a vehicle, you need legal advice from a team of specialist motoring solicitors, who can help you build a robust defence in order to help reduce the penalty you receive from the court.

To get in touch with our team and to find out how we can assist with your case, call us for free on 0345 872 6666 or complete our online form.

How JMW Can Help

From the moment you get in touch, we will take a comprehensive approach to understanding your situation. We will provide clear advice and explain the legal process, potential outcomes, and how we can best support you. We believe in transparent communication, ensuring you are aware of all developments related to your case.

We will guide you through the entire process, from your initial no-obligations consultation with our team, to representation in court.

If a defence can be made on the grounds of 'no likelihood of driving,' we will meticulously compile the necessary evidence to support this claim. Where procedural errors are evident in the process followed by the police, we will rigorously scrutinise these inconsistencies to fortify your defence.

We understand the severity of potential penalties for a drunk in charge offence, including fines, disqualification from driving, and even imprisonment. Thus, we are dedicated to offering vigorous representation, advocating for your rights and working towards the most favourable outcome.

JMW Solicitors is here to help you navigate the legal intricacies of a drunk in charge offence. With our experience, expertise, and unwavering commitment to your case, you can trust that you are in capable hands.

About Drunk in Charge of a Vehicle Offences

Being drunk in charge of a vehicle is different to drunk driving. To be convicted of being drunk in charge of a vehicle, the prosecution must prove that the amount of alcohol in your blood was above the legal prescribed alcohol limit and also that you were in charge of a vehicle in a public place.

When is a Driver Considered 'In Charge' of a Vehicle?

A driver is considered 'in charge' of a vehicle when they are not necessarily driving the vehicle but has the ability to control its use. This is a situation that can be subjective and open to interpretation, and the exact circumstances of each case can greatly influence this definition.

For instance, if an individual is found within a vehicle and has the keys to the vehicle, that person could be perceived as 'in charge.' However, factors such as the individual's location in the vehicle, the position of the vehicle keys, whether the vehicle's engine was running, and the individual's intentions may all play a part in determining whether or not the individual was in charge.

Key considerations when deciding whether you were ‘in charge’ of the vehicle are:

  • You being in the car
  • Where the keys were
  • What you were doing
  • Whether there was any intention of you driving the car

The courts will look at the entirety of the circumstances to decide whether or not an individual was 'in charge' of a vehicle at a specific time.

What Counts as Showing Intent to Drive?

Intent to drive a vehicle whilst intoxicated is often judged on the basis of the available evidence. An individual might be deemed to have intended to drive if they are intoxicated and are found within the vehicle with the keys, even if they are not in the driver's seat at the time.

Proof of intent to drive could potentially include things like the car's running engine, the presence of the keys in the ignition, the individual being found in the driver's seat, or the individual making statements about their intention to drive. The nature and position of the vehicle may also be taken into account - for example, whether it is parked in a way that suggests imminent use, or parked in a pub car park late at night.

However, it is important to note that the intention to drive while under the influence of alcohol is not required for a charge of being 'drunk in charge.' Merely being 'in charge' of a vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit can be enough for a conviction, regardless of whether there was an intent to drive.

Penalties for Drunk in Charge Offences

The possible punishments for being drunk in charge of a vehicle are slightly different to those for drink driving in that, on conviction, the defendant is not automatically given a 12-month disqualification from driving. Instead, they could face a fine plus:

  • Ten penalty points
  • Disqualification from driving
  • A possible community order
  • Custodial sentence

If you decide to defend the allegation, you would need to satisfy the court that you had no intention of taking control of the vehicle.

When dealing with drunk in charge offences, our expert solicitors look to employ any of several legal defences which, if successfully argued, can result in an acquittal or the charge being dropped. Here are some examples of key defences:

  1. No likelihood of driving: this is the most common defence against a charge of being 'drunk in charge.' The defendant has to demonstrate that, even though they were in charge of a vehicle while over the legal limit, there was no likelihood of them driving the vehicle while they remained over the limit. Various factors such as the defendant's intentions, the vehicle's location, and the time period within which the defendant intended to drive can be relevant. This defence can be complex and requires a sound legal strategy.
  2. Procedural errors: if the police did not follow proper procedures in administering breath, blood, or urine tests, or if they did not follow the correct procedure when charging or detaining the defendant, this can also form the basis of a defence.
  3. Reliability of breathalyser: the defence might question the reliability of the breathalyser equipment used to determine the level of alcohol in the defendant's body, though, such cases are difficult to challenge.

It is important to remember that every case is unique and a strategy that works for one case may not be applicable for another. It is always advisable to consult with a skilled solicitor to understand the best legal defence for your specific circumstances.

Why Choose JMW?

The experts here at JMW can take the stress out of facing a prosecution for being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle by backing you with their significant knowledge of motoring law and years of experience helping drivers to stay on the road.

Due to our successes over the decades that JMW has been operating, we have been recognised as a top UK law firm by prestigious legal institutes, such as The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. For more information on how we have helped drivers to stay on the road, take a look at our motoring offences case studies, or take it directly from our clients by reading our testimonials.

By seeking our help, you will receive legal advice and representation from a team of solicitors who have forged a reputation for refusing to accept defeat and successfully helping clients defend charges of this kind time and time again.

FAQs About Drunk in Charge Offences

Can I be arrested for sleeping in my car after drinking?

You can be arrested for sleeping in your car after drinking if it is determined that you were 'in charge' of the vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit. The definition of being 'in charge' of a vehicle can be quite broad and includes situations where you are not actually driving the vehicle.

If you are found in your vehicle and have exceeded the legal alcohol limit, the police may conclude that you are 'in charge' of the vehicle. This is even more likely if you have the keys to the vehicle. If convicted of being drunk in charge of a vehicle, you could face penalties including a fine, a driving ban, and even imprisonment.

Therefore, if you have been drinking and there is a chance that you could be over the limit, it is best to avoid getting into your vehicle altogether. It is always safer, and legally wiser, to arrange for an alternative way home such as a taxi or designated driver.

The specific circumstances of each case can vary, and what constitutes being 'in charge' of a vehicle can sometimes be a grey area. If you find yourself facing a drunk in charge offence, it is strongly advisable to seek expert legal advice to understand your position and the best course of action.

Talk to Us

To speak to our experts and to find out how we can help you, call us for free on 0345 872 6666 or complete our online enquiry form and let us know when we should get in touch with you.