Thames Valley police arrests 278 motorists on suspicion of drink driving in December 2012

Posted by Tim Williamson on
There has been wide spread media coverage recently of the number of motorists arrested on suspicion of drink driving in the Thames Valley in December 2012.

According to Thames Valley police, 278 drivers were arrested in the region on suspicion of drink driving, which was down from 299 in the same month of 2011.

A total of 74 motorists were arrested in Oxfordshire, with 26 in Oxford, 19 in Cherwell, 20 in the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire and 9 in West Oxfordshire. Approximately 6% of drivers tested were allegedly at least three times over the limit, Thames Valley Police has said.

Thames Valley Police figures show that 9.3% were arrested in the morning compared with 8.4% the previous year.

The legal drink drive limit in the UK is 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. This is not a particularly easy concept to get to grips with and what does it actually mean?

Many drivers simply do not know how many units of alcohol there are in the drinks they are consuming and whether that means they are under or over the legal drink drive limit.

Breath alcohol readings vary according to a person's age, sex, weight, height and their metabolic rate. Motorists are therefore advised not to consume alcohol if driving is contemplated.

The consequences of a conviction for drink driving or a related offence are extremely serious. In particular, courts are required to disqualify motorists convicted of drink driving for at least twelve months. In practice the length of disqualification could be much longer because the exact period of disqualification will depend upon the breath alcohol reading recorded.

Furthermore, a conviction will lead to either a fine, a community penalty (unpaid work etc) or in the most serious of cases a custodial sentence. Drink driving is also a recordable offence, which means that it will be seen on a CRB check. Motorists will also have to pay higher insurance premiums following a conviction for drink driving or a related offence.

If a motorist is found to have a breath alcohol level greater than 2.5 times the prescribed limit, they will be treated as a 'High Risk Offender' when they come to apply for the return of their driving licence.

This means they will have to undergo a medical (blood tests), organised by the DVLA's Medical Advisory Branch, which is designed to assess whether or not a motorist is dependent on alcohol.

Tim Williamson said: "The law is complicated in that it is difficult for motorists to work out how many units of alcohol they have consumed and whether that means they are over the legal drink drive limit or not. However the fact that a motorist has been arrested does not mean they are necessarily going to be charged with committing an offence and even if charged, that in itself does not mean that the evidence will necessarily be sufficient to lead to a conviction – the procedural obligations on the police are considerable. Even if a guilty plea is advisable then there is likely to be more that can be said in mitigation. This is also important because explaining any mitigating circumstances effectively could lead to a motorist receiving a fine rather than a community penalty or a shorter ban than they might have otherwise received. This in turn could be the difference between keeping and losing a job. The consequences of a drink driving conviction are so serious that it is vitally important to get specialist legal advice at an early stage."

About the Author

Tim is a leading Criminal and Regulatory lawyer, who defends businesses and individuals under investigation by the police and regulatory bodies and when accused of criminal offences.

Tim Williamson
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