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

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

You may be able to reduce your ban by taking a drink-drive rehabilitation scheme (DDRS) course if you’re banned from driving for 12 months or more. It’s up to the court to offer this.

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 with an alcohol reading of at least 87.5 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, 200 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or 
267.5 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine
  • 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