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What is the legal limit for drink driving and what rights have the police got

Question:

What is the legal limit for drink driving and what rights have the police got?

Answer:

The police can stop you if they suspect you are driving under the influence of alcohol. Also, if the police suspect you are about to drive a vehicle (for instance you have your keys in your hands and are just leaving a pub) you can also be stopped and asked to take a drink-driving test. You may also be asked to take a breath test if you are involved in a road traffic accident.

There are three general drink-driving offences:

  • Being in charge of a vehicle when you are over the legal alcohol limit.
  • Driving a vehicle whilst over the legal alcohol limit.
  • When stopped by the police failing to give a breath test.

At the Roadside

The first test that you will take after the police have stopped you will be a breath test. You are breaking the law if you refuse to take a breath test, but if you do refuse you will be arrested and taken to a police station where a sample of your blood or urine will be taken for testing. Note that only a doctor can take a sample of your blood, and only with your consent.

At the Police Station

When you arrive at the police station two samples will be taken. The lowest reading will be used as evidence in your case. You should be given a printout of the alcohol level that has been detected for your own records. Usually the samples are just breath samples, but the police can request that you give a blood or urine sample. This may happen if you are unable to give a breath sample, as you are too drunk. Also, the police may not have a breath device or a qualified officer to operate it available. A doctor may also have informed the police that your condition may be because of drugs and not alcohol.

What Happens if I am Charged?

If your alcohol tests are positive you will be told your rights and cautioned about anything you say can be used in evidence against you. The details of your offence will be recorded on your charge sheet that you will have to sign. You will be given a copy for your records. You will then be free to go and expected to appear at the court at the stated date and time on your charge sheet.

The Penalties

If you are found guilty of drink-driving the penalties are:

  • A ban from driving for at least 1 year.
  • A fine of up to £5,000.
  • Between 3 and 11 points to be put on your licence.
  • A prison sentence of up to 6 months.
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