drink driving

What does the Christmas period usually look like for you? Maybe it’s cosy nights in, with a glass of mulled wine, meeting up with friends at the local to ring in the new year or sharing a toast on the big day with your loved ones.

However you choose to celebrate, the chances are a tipple, or two, may come into the picture at some stage as we spend time and have fun with those we are closest to.

And although this year’s celebrations may be slightly different than usual, with work Christmas parties off the cards, and festive trips to the pub to see friends a thing of the past, people will certainly still be celebrating seeing out the end of 2020 with a drink or two.

But, unfortunately, the joy and festivities of the Christmas season can sometimes end in disaster, when those who have had one too many get behind the wheel.

Each year, approximately 85,000 people are convicted of drink driving-related offences in England and Wales, with 2019 recording the highest level of drink driving deaths in nearly a decade.

And with statistics revealing that you are nearly three times more likely to be breathalysed in December than any other time of the year, it’s important that drivers understand the facts to ensure they don’t get an unwelcome ‘gift’ in the new year.

Know the facts on drink driving

The safest way to ensure you won’t get caught out by the law during the festive season is by simply not having a drink at all. 

Just one small drink can affect your driving ability and slow down your reaction speeds. 

It can also reduce your vision and ability to judge other road users speed and distance, causing you to take dangerous risks.

So, if you’re planning on going out over the festive period and are expecting to have an alcoholic drink, you should either:

  • select a designated driver
  • hire a taxi
  • or arrange for a lift from a trusted friend or relative

If you do have an alcoholic drink and will be driving a short period of time after this, if you are pulled over at the roadside and found to have 35 micrograms or more of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, you will be classed as over the limit.

This figure can often differ depending on your age, gender and metabolism, and is also impacted by the type and amount of that particular alcohol you consume.

Whether you’ve eaten recently and your stress levels at the time can also play an important factor in the level that you record on the roadside.

If you fail this test, or refuse to comply and an officer believes that your driving was impaired through drink, you will be taken to a local station for another, more complex, breath test.

If you are again found guilty of drink driving, you will be subject to a number of potential penalties, which will be made by the magistrates who hear your case in court.

Depending on your offence, you could expect:

  • imprisonment
  • a driving ban
  • a hefty fine
  • or in some less serious offences, you may be able to have your ban reduced to a drink-drive rehabilitation course if you’ve been banned from driving for 12 months or more

Other offences related to drink driving include:

If you are caught in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or in an unfit state through drink, you may get:

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

If you are found driving or attempting to drive while over the legal limit, you can expect:

  • 6 months imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a driving ban for at least a year, which can go up to three if convicted more than once in 10 years

Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine is also an offence which could see you get:

  • 6 months imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a driving ban for at least a year

If you have been involved in a fatal accident where death by careless driving when under the influence of drink occurs, as you can expect, this comes with much harsher penalties. These include:

  • 14 years imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a ban from driving for at least two years
  • and you will be expected to take an extended driving test before your licence is returned

Even after receiving a conviction in relation to a drink driving offence, you could also potentially face a number of other issues that will have a detrimental effect on your life for years to come.

In some cases, your car insurance may significantly increase due to these related offences, and your employer will also be able to see your conviction, potentially impacting your career.

With motoring offences, you may also have issues when it comes to travelling abroad, particularly to countries like the United States.

With the fallout following a drink driving conviction causing detrimental impacts to so many parts of your life, we’d advise to prepare and plan any trips this festive season ahead of time, to ensure you’re never caught out having to drink and drive.

With the effects being felt for years to come, being aware of the rules surrounding drink driving will ensure you don’t get caught out and punished with a considerable fine, driving ban or even a prison sentence.

If you do find yourself in a situation where you are facing a drink driving charge and would like to speak with a member of the Regan Peggs team to assist you, please get in touch with us by phone on 0121 201 3765 or send us an email at to discuss your situation.