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Haywards Heath Office
Stephen Gallico Solicitors
6 Boltro Road
Tel: 01444 411333
6 Linkfield Corner
Tel: 01737 761004
Who will ensure you KEEP your DIVING LICENCE?
The 'Drunk in Charge' Offence
We are all aware of the dangers of driving whilst over the influence of alcohol as the matter has been the subject of countless TV campaigns, posters, warning labels on bottles and news articles given us the distressing facts and figures of just how many people are killed on the UK roads as a result of drunk drivers. So what if you take the decision, after a few pints of beer at the pub or a bottle of wine at your friend's house, to simply sit in your car and 'sleep it off'. Surely this is a sensible thing to do and you cannot be charged with a criminal offence if you are not actually driving? This is not the case. This article looks at what actually constitutes being drunk in charge of a vehicle, whether it is up to you or the prosecution to prove your/their case, whether there is any defence you can use and what penalty you may face if convicted.
Whilst there is no legal definition of being 'drunk in charge' of a motor vehicle it is generally considered that if you are sat inside your own vehicle (or, on some occasions, even somebody else's vehicle) you are in charge of the vehicle. If you are not in the vehicle but are near it, especially if you are in possession of the keys, you are likely to be deemed in charge of the vehicle. Similarly, if you are in the passenger seat and have asked somebody on a provisional licence (a learner driver) to drive you home, you are classed as supervising that driver and are therefore deemed to be in charge of the vehicle. If you are near the vehicle and have recently driven it, you are deemed to be in charged. As there is no legal definition of being 'in charge' each case will be considered according to the exact circumstances/proximity between yourself and the vehicle.
It is not up to the prosecution to prove that you were likely to drive the vehicle, it is up to you to prove that were not intending to drive it whilst over the limit. If you can prove that there was absolutely no likelihood of you driving the vehicle whilst still over the legal limit of alcohol then you may have a successful defence.
Unlike in cases of drink driving where the court must impose a mandatory disqualification from driving if a conviction is made, in the case of being 'drunk in charge' the court does not have to disqualify you from driving but it is highly likely that they will.
In summary, alcohol and motor vehicles simply do not mix. If you have any suspicion that you may be over the legal limit of alcohol then leave your car keys - and more importantly - your car, safely at home.
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Although we operate from offices near Gatwick in Surrey we regularly accept instructions across England and Wales and have barristers ready to represent you in all courts even at short notice. We can take full instructions on the telephone or in person.
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