Thanks to the fact that so many people are injured – and cause injury to others – while driving under the influence of alcohol, this offence in particular has received a lot of attention from Scottish Police forces. At certain points of the year, for example Christmas or during major sporting events, there are campaigns to help people to understand the dangers of driving under the influence, and to try to cut down the number of people who choose to do so. An increase in social responsibility has meant that the number of people convicted of drink driving has fallen, however there are still many who are on the wrong side of the law in this respect. Recently, the law has been changed, and this means that drivers aren’t allowed to have as much alcohol in either their breath, blood or urine as they may have been able to have in the past.

What the law states

Section 5(1)(a) Road Traffic Act 1988

This section of the law states that an individual is not allowed to drive, or even attempt to get behind the wheel, if they have consumed a great enough amount of alcohol to mean that levels, when tested, are higher than the legal limits.

Section 5(1)(b) relates to a person who records levels of higher than the legal limit, and who is in charge of a vehicle. This part of the law can be defended if there is no likelihood that the individual would have been driving at the time that the offence took place.

Offences that fall under Section 4 include driving under the influence of substances – drink or drugs – and holds the same penalties as Section 5 offences.

If you are convicted of drink driving, you can expect to be given significant penalties. The information below is important to consider.

– If you are found to be drink driving, you will be disqualified from driving for at least a year.

– If you offend for a second time in a period of ten years, you will be disqualified from driving for at least three years.

– If you refuse to provide a sample of either breath, blood or urine, you will be disqualified from driving for at least a year.

– The process of securing a prosecution or drink driving can be tricky, and will need the input of a qualified road traffic expert.

– Over the past few years, a few things have changed in the law related to drink driving.

From December 2014, new alcohol limits are in place in Scotland, which are:

– 22ug in 100ml of breath (previously 35ug)

– 50mg in 100ml of blood (previously 80mg)

– 67mg in 100ml of urine (previously 107mg)

The right to provide another sample in the case of a borderline reading was removed in April 2015.

The Intoximeter EC/IR device is the most common used by Scottish Police to analyse breath alcohol levels. In order to use this properly, it is important to be aware of how it works, and also the limitations that it has.

If you either have previous convictions of drink driving, or if you refuse to cooperate with offers with regards to giving samples, a prison sentence may be considered.

Some disqualification periods have been reduced.

If individuals are convicted of a certain offence, they may qualify for the Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme, which can reduce the disqualification period by 25%. The court must agree that this is the best course of action in any given case.

If a case is to be defended, the following must be understood:

  • What the police require when investigating an allegation of drink driving
  • Areas that can be challenged, including the equipment used, how it was used, and details related to the individual case
  • Defences, such as alcohol consumption after the incident and the accuracy of calculations
  • Whether officers have been trained in using the relevant equipment

Many things that are described as “loopholes” don’t really fall under that category. What is more common, however, is that a case may be poorly prepared, or officers may not have been adequately trained in how to carry out the investigation. However, over the past decade there has been a lot more attention on these issues, which means that such basic errors are not as common. This doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t lines of enquiry that can be taken to try to overturn a conviction.

If you feel that a reading that you have received is unlikely, or you don’t think that the police carried out the investigation properly or fairly, you should get in touch with a road traffic expert to consider the way forward. We have experts who can assist us with the science of the case, which means that you have a great chance of having an unfair conviction overturned.

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