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What do they call drunk driving in England?




Road users who are impaired by alcohol have a significantly higher risk of being involved in a crash. Enacting and enforcing strong drink-driving laws and low blood alcohol concentration limits via sobriety checkpoints and random breath testing will help to turn the tide.

What to do?

Several measures are available for governments who want to take concrete actions to counter drink-driving. For instance:

  • blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limits can be established and restricted (with lower limits for novice and professional drivers);
  • sobriety checkpoints, random breath-testing, administrative suspension of licences, graduated driving licences for novice drivers and ignition interlocks are effective in reducing alcohol-impaired driving; and
  • other complementary measures include mandatory driver education, provision of alternative transportation, counselling and, as appropriate, treatment programmes for repeat offenders and carefully planned, high-intensity and well-executed mass media campaigns.


Why do it?

Road traffic crashes are a major source of injury, disability and death throughout the world and road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among people aged 15-29 years. Road users who are impaired by alcohol have a significantly higher risk of being involved in a crash. Driving under the influence of alcohol, or drink-driving, is a key risk factor for 27% of all road injuries. Thus, drink-driving is a significant public health problem that affects not only the alcohol user but also, in many cases, innocent parties such as passengers and pedestrians. Even at low blood-alcohol levels, drivers experience problems with concentration, coordination and identification of risks in the road environment. In addition, at a given blood-alcohol level, drink–driving crashes can be more severe or more common when high speed or poor road design are involved. Drink- driving laws and BAC limits have been assessed as effective interventions for NCD prevention.

How to do it?

An effective road safety transport policy should be in place to address drink–driving, together with road safety measures to reduce the severity and risk of drink–driving crashes. Such measures might, for instance, address infrastructure and speed limits.

Legislation should stipulate upper BAC limits for drivers at a maximum of ≤ 0.05 g/dL or lower for the general population, and at 0.02 g/dL or lower for novice and commercial drivers.

Legislation should specify the penalties for violation of such limits, allow for roadside testing (typically of breath) with approved and calibrated equipment, make it an offence for drivers to refuse a roadside breath test, and allow test results to be used as evidence in court. Penalties should include a combination of administrative sanctions (e.g. driving licence suspension) and criminal ones (e.g. mandatory minimum fines) of adequate severity.

BAC limits are most effective when enforcement is consistent and highly visible, when detection of violation results in penalties that are certain, swift and sufficiently severe, and when supported by effective public education campaigns.

The enforcement of drink-driving laws must be accompanied by strong public awareness campaigns, using mass media and other strategic communications, on the risks of drink-driving and the presence of enforcement activities.

Effective enforcement of drink–driving laws requires a significant amount of police time for conducting and processing random breath-testing activities and sobriety checkpoints, and resources are required in the judicial system to process cases. Resources are also needed to pay for breath-testing equipment. It is important that the police and judicial system have adequate resources for effective enforcement. The fines collected could be used to finance police activity.

High BAC levels and repeated drink–driving can be both a sign and a symptom of alcohol use disorders. Resources need to be available for identifying cases and making treatment available for them.

Whom to work with?

The key stakeholders for reducing drink–driving accidents are the police; they are responsible for enforcing drink–driving laws and for generally stepping up drink–driving countermeasures. Such countermeasures require adequate resources.

Another important stakeholder is the department of transportation, which typically has responsibility for implementing drink–driving laws and other policies to improve road safety and health, and which often has expertise in communication to promote behaviour change.

Persons who serve alcoholic beverages are also stakeholders to the extent that they should be responsible for not serving excess alcohol to drivers.

Alternative transportation (public and private) should be available. Mass media campaigns and police enforcement should not be limited to specific holidays since drink-driving behaviour occurs throughout the year. However, during holiday periods the frequency of enforcement and the visibility of media campaigns can be increased.

Drunk in Charge of a Vehicle vs Drink Driving: What’s the Difference?

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Drink driving is when you are found operating a vehicle while over the prescribed alcohol limit. Drunk in charge is when you are in control of a vehicle while over the prescribed limit. There is no set definition of what it means to be ‘in charge’ of a vehicle, but there must a realistic possibility that you will attempt to drive while over the limit.

Drunk and in charge of a vehicle

Drink driving offences are serious and can result in severe penalties, including a driving ban. If you have been charged with drink driving or being drunk in charge of a vehicle, please contact us at Ashmans drink driving Solicitors. We offer an initial consultation and can help to preserve your driving privileges. One defence may be the hip flask defence back calculation.

What does ‘drunk in charge’ of a vehicle mean?

To be guilty of being drunk in charge of a vehicle, you must be:

  • In a public place
  • Over the prescribed limit for alcohol, which in England and Wales is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath
  • In charge of a vehicle

The first two points are easy to understand. Either you are in a public place, or you are not. Also, a breath test either shows that you are over the prescribed limit, or you are not. However, there is no set definition of what it means to be ‘in charge’ of a vehicle. The courts are reluctant to pinpoint precisely what constitutes being in charge of a vehicle. Typically, it is any situation in which:

  • You have control of a vehicle, and
  • There is a reasonable prospect that you will drive

What does being in control of a vehicle mean?

So, how do the courts determine if you were in control of a vehicle and if there was a reasonable prospect that you would drive? Again, there is no set definition. It all depends on the circumstances.

Usually, being in control of a vehicle means that you have the keys in your possession. In other words, you could have driven the car, had you wanted to. As to your intentions, this will come down to your behaviour on the day/night in question.

If the court decides that you did intend to drive, then the timeframe will be compared to the alcohol level in your system. So, you may say that you intended to drive the morning after the night before. But if your blood alcohol content would still have been above the prescribed limit, you will be guilty of the offence.

Examples of being drunk in charge

People are often caught out by a drunk in charge offence. Normally what happens is that they drink alcohol and then return to their vehicle for a temporary period. They may intend to sleep in the car, they may have lost their house keys, or they may have been separated from their friends. Whatever the reason, they are found in or near their vehicle while over the prescribed limit.

The keys might be in the ignition, whether through force of habit or to enable the operation of the windows or heating. However, this is not a prerequisite of being drunk in charge. The accused may have the keys in their pocket. They may even be curled up in the backseat or the passenger seat, rather than the driver’s seat.

There are numerous examples of what might amount to being ‘drunk in charge’. Every case depends on the circumstances. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you could technically have operated the car – because you had the keys on your person. And whether you intended to drive, either immediately or at some point in the future, while you were still over the legal limit.

How does being drunk in charge differ to drink driving?

Being drunk in charge of a vehicle is not the same thing as drink driving. Drink driving is when you are actually driving while over the prescribed limit. This means that the vehicle is, or has been, in motion.

Clearly, there is room for some overlap between the two offences. For example, if you are sat in the driver’s seat with the ignition on, does this amount to being drunk in charge, or drink driving? In the court’s eyes, it is situational. If a driver was indicating and preparing to move out into the road, this could be classed as drink driving. But if the driver was parked and asleep, then he/she is more likely to be charged with being drunk in charge.

What are the penalties for being drunk in charge vs drink driving?

Another key difference between the offences is the penalties imposed. The penalties available to the court for being drunk in charge are:

  • Up to 10 penalty points
  • A financial penalty
  • A discretionary driving ban
  • imprisonment
  • Community Order

The penalties available to the court for drink driving are:

  • A financial penalty
  • A mandatory driving ban for at least one year, or three years if convicted twice in the past 10 years
  • imprisonment
  • Community Order

Defending charges of drink driving and drunk in charge

Given these penalties, being accused of drink driving or drunk in charge is a scary prospect. You face the very real possibility of losing your licence, along with a raft of other adverse consequences. However, there are defences available.

When it comes to defending accusations of being drunk in charge, the key is often to prove that you did not intend to drive. If you had no intention of actually operating the vehicle while under the prescribed limit, the prosecution’s case will fail. The burden is on you to establish this and to persuade the court of your innocence. This can be achieved with circumstantial evidence, along with toxicology reports that show you would have been under the limit, by the time you intended to drive.

If the police claim they have caught you drink driving, then your case will likely hinge upon a technical defence. The police have various procedures they must follow when testing and arresting someone for drink driving. If there was any deviation from the rules, the case against you cannot proceed.

There are also other defences available. For example, you might have been on private property, or you might have a special reason for drink driving. This could be any mitigating circumstances that explain why you needed to drive while other the limit, such as a medical emergency or fleeing danger. Alternatively, you could rely on the hip flask defence. This is when you drank alcohol after driving but before providing a sample of breath, blood or urine.

Speak to a motor offence solicitors London

Whether you have been charged with drink driving or being drunk in charge of a vehicle, we know what to do. We have a specialist team of drink driving solicitors who can devise the best strategy in your particular case. Thanks to our expertise, we know how to minimise the consequences of a drink driving charge.

Contact us now for an initial enquiry. You can call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. See our motoring defence fees page to find out more about our fixed fees.

You can also email us on or complete our Online Enquiry Form and we will contact you

What is drink driving UK

In the UK, drink driving refers to the act of operating a motor vehicle on a public road or in a public place while under the influence of alcohol. The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) while driving in the UK is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath. If a driver is found to have a BAC above this limit, they can be charged with drink driving

What is considered drinks driving

Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink.

Can you be charged if drunk in car but not driving

In the UK, it is possible to be charged with an offense even if you are not driving a car but are drunk and in control of the vehicle. This offense is known as “being in charge of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol” and it is a criminal offense under the Road Traffic Act 1988.

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