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Drink Driving: Know The Law

Under Section 4 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act, and Section 1 of the 1991 Road Traffic Act, it is illegal to operate and be in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or in a public place whilst under the influence of drink or drugs.

If you are pulled over by the police on suspicion of drink-driving, you will be asked to give a breath sample to measure the amount of alcohol in your system. If a uniformed police officer suspects that you may be under the influence whilst driving, you have to give him a sample of your breath for testing. Failure to do so will mean you will be arrested anyway.

Alcohol affects each of us differently, so it is hard to measure the legal drink driving limit as units of alcohol. The legal drink driving limit in the UK is 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. Some people could find themselves over the limit after just one pint of strong lager, one large glass of wine or a measure of spirits.

If you are convicted of such an offence, it is inevitable that you will receive a driving ban and a heavy fine. In more serious cases, you could be made to complete community service, follow a curfew or even be sent to prison.

If you are found to be guilty of driving or attempting to drive whilst unfit due to excess alcohol, you could be sentenced to a maximum of 6 months in prison. You could also be fined up to £5,000 and could be disqualified from driving for life.

Failing to co-operate in a preliminary breath test at the roadside when a police officer pulls you over, can result in you being fined up to £1,000 and receiving a maximum of four penalty points on your licence. A judge could even ban you from driving for this offence, even if there is no evidence that you were over the limit.

If you fail to give a specimen of breath, blood or urine for testing at a police station, the penalties are severe as if you are found guilty of driving drunk. You could be fined up to £5,000, sentenced to 6 months in prison and disqualified from driving.

If you cause a death by operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, you could be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. You will be banned from driving for a minimum of two years, and the fine you can receive is unlimited.

If you are convicted of a drink driving offence within 10 years of previously being found guilty for the same offence, you will receive a minimum driving ban of 3 years.

The easiest way to follow UK road traffic law is not to have a drink at all when you know you have to drive home. If you do have a drink, think about leaving the car and taking a taxi home instead, as the consequences of drink driving are severe. At best, you will be punished but you are also putting the lives of yourself, any passengers in your car and the innocent public at risk.

Written by James Sheehan, a passionate blogger with past legal experience

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