You could be imprisoned, banned from driving and face a fine if you’re found guilty of drink-driving.

Penalties for different offences

The following penalties may apply if you’re charged and found guilty of a drink-driving offence.

The actual penalty you get is up to the magistrates who hear your case, and depends the circumstances of your offence.

The courts may offer you to take a drink-drive rehabilitation scheme (DDRS) course if you’re banned from driving for 12 or more months.

Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

You may get:

  • 3 months’ imprisonment
  • up to £2,500 fine
  • a possible driving ban

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

You may get:

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • up to £5,000 fine
  • a driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)

Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis

You may get:

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • up to £5,000 fine
  • a ban from driving for at least 1 year

Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink

You may get:

  • 14 years’ imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a ban from driving for at least 2 years
  • an extended driving test before your licence is returned

The High Risk Offenders Scheme

Your driving licence won’t be returned automatically at the end of a driving ban if you’re a ‘high risk offender’. You’ll only get your licence back if you pass a medical examination.

You’re a high risk offender if you:

  • were convicted of 2 drink-driving offences within 10 years
  • were driving when you were at 2.5 times or more the legal alcohol limit
  • refused to give the police a sample of breath, blood or urine to test for alcohol
  • refused to allow a sample of your blood to be tested for alcohol (eg if it was taken when you were unconscious)

Other problems you could face

A conviction for drink-driving also means:

  • your car insurance costs will increase significantly
  • if you drive for work, your employer will see your conviction on your licence
  • you may have trouble travelling to countries like the USA

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