What are the penalties for Drinking and Driving?

If you are convicted of drinking and driving the penalties can be severe. Depending upon the concentration of alcohol found to be in your breath, blood or urine, you can be sent to prison for up to 6 months or ordered to undertake a community penalty such as community service or ordered to pay a fine (with no maximum set). Coupled with the above penalties will be a mandatory driving ban of at least 12 months. The length of the ban could, of course, be much longer than the minimum 1 year (such short bans are usually reserved for those found to be only just above the drink drive limit) and could be as long as several years. You may also have to pay costs as well as, what is termed, a ‘victim surcharge’. If all of that weren’t enough, you also lose your ‘good character’ (a lawyer’s term for those who do not have criminal convictions).

Speeding defence by ShenSmith Barristers

It can’t get any worse, can it?

Yes, it can. In my experience, drink drive cases are often linked to accidents or other factors which aggravate the offence still further (which in themselves can lead to the involvement of the police). The police have the power to prosecute for multiple offences arising out of the same incident. Even if the police only prosecute for drink driving the fact that there was, for example, a collision can act as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. In other words, the sentence is likely to be even more severe depending on the extent of the aggravating factors.

 

It can’t get any worse, can it?

Yes, it can.   The consequences of a drink drive conviction, for all those whose jobs are dependent on their driving licences, is loss of job. This, in turn, can result in loss of home (if mortgage payments can’t be met) and relationship difficulties and so on. For some, such as those in high end professions or who are in positions of trust, the fact of such a conviction can lead to a disciplinary hearing the attendant consequences of which can be devastating. For example, I have recently had several clients who advised me that they might lose their jobs depending on how the court sentenced them. (These clients did not require their licences as a condition of their employment, but, they nevertheless faced disciplinary hearings which could have led to loss of job, for example, if they had been sentenced to community penalties instead of by way of fines).

Drugs and Drink Driving penalties - ShenSmith Barristers

Can anything be done to mitigate the penalties?

Yes, it can. I find that in all cases there is some mitigation relating to the offence or to the Defendant’s background circumstances (usually both). The range and variety of mitigation is infinite and varies from case to case. It is necessary to sift through the individual circumstances of each case to assess what is worth putting forward and what is not. Often I advise my clients to obtain support for the mitigation, in one or more respects, in advance of the hearing.   At the hearing, adopting the correct approach both to the prosecutor and the court, combined with presenting the mitigation to best effect, always softens the penalty. This can prove to be the difference between a prison sentence and a community penalty or between a community penalty and a fine. The length of the ban can also sometimes be reduced. Therefore, it is not a case of ‘all those who enter here lose all hope’ (as so much can still be done) but it is so much better just to avoid drinking and driving in the first place!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Criminal Matters and Criminal Prosecutions

What do I do if I am arrested upon the suspicion of a criminal offence?

Anyone who has been arrested upon suspicion of any criminal offence needs the very best of legal advice urgently. With proper and sensible written representations being made pre-charge it maybe possible to influence the police or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as to the outcome of the investigation, and as to whether or not there’s going to be a charge at all.

What do I do if I have been charged with a criminal offence?

But in the event of a charge being preferred, the advice and the steps taken during the course of the investigation can be pivotal to the outcome of the trial. It is common sense that if there is a charge followed by a trial, then the person who is going to eventually appear in court, is by far the best person to advise upon when, which the case should be conducted from the beginning.

What happens if I am convicted of a criminal offence?

Significant financial penalties, if not imprisonment follow criminal convictions, if the allegation involves financial profit, then there are the draconian provisions of Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), which can mean that most if not all of the person’s assets can be confiscated by the court.

The advantages that I have at both stages, and after 30 years in practice, is that I am recognised as being a senior criminal practitioner. I am a QC (Queen’s Counsel), a silk, representing about 10 or 12 percent of the entire profession.

Criminal advocacy, especially jury advocacy is the specialism of the barrister. That is what barristers have been doing for hundreds of years. There is no rehearsal prior to a court trial. The only substitute for a trial is preparation – and proper preparation, in order to deal with various ways in which the evidence may well unfold. Effective persuasion is the product of years of experience before juries, courts up and down the country. It involves a detailed knowledge of the law and the courts’ procedures, but it also involves a sensitivity to the atmosphere, in which the proceedings are being conducted.

The consequences of a conviction are all too obvious: imprisonment, fines running into thousands of pounds, the prosecution’s costs of bringing the investigation and then proceeding through the court, damage to you and your family’s reputations, a significant loss of family assets if the charges are of a particular nature.

Instruct a barrister directly for criminal defence:

The first instances almost everyone will have, if they are arrested on a suspicion of an offence, is to pick the phone and call a solicitor. However, the new legal horizon is very different, and provides a quicker and more cost effective way forward. You can now access the very best of court room skills as solicitors always have done over the years, by going direct to the barrister. Moreover, I have access to specialist investigators who can be called upon on a case by case basis, in order to assist in a proper and complete preparation of your case. They will be hand picked for particular tasks. I can also advise you upon the choice and instruction of any experts that are required for the purposes of the case. The net result of coming directly to a barrister is that the process of the delivery of the advice is quicker and you get a highly experienced specialist’s help from the outset.