Police Scotland have just completed their annual drink driving summer campaign, which they undertake for two weeks a year. This year’s campaign ran from 24th June – 7th July. Roadside officers carried out 3,076 breath tests, 238 of which showed drivers over the legal limit. This is an increase from last year, when 195 drivers were shown to be over the limit.
Over the Limit?
29 of the 238 drivers blew over the legal limit after being tested the morning after consuming alcohol. You may still be over the limit if you have consumed alcohol the previous evening and this is something to consider seriously when taking to the road the next morning. Consuming alcohol the evening before is not a defence and the court will not treat your case differently.
Reduction of the Limit
As of 5th December 2014, the drink driving limit in Scotland reduced significantly from 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, to 22 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath. In some instances, blood samples can be taken instead of using the breathalyser method. The limit for blood samples also reduced in line with the breathalyser test, from 80 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath to 50 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath. Everyone’s metabolism is different, but for some people, one alcoholic drink can put you over the limit.
So what happens when a driver tests over the limit?
In my professional experience, they are taken into custody to appear the next working day at the local Sheriff Court, usually to answer a complaint under section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, that is, driving, or being in charge of, a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit. If found guilty of driving with an alcohol concentration above the prescribed limit, the driver will receive an obligatory disqualification from driving for a minimum of 12 months, together with a fine. For those drivers who are regularly before the court for analogous or other driving offences, the court may impose a custodial sentence. Some drivers also have to forfeit their car.
If you are not charged with driving, or attempting to drive, whilst above the prescribed limit, you might be charged with being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst above the prescribed limit. It is a defence to show that, at the time you were alleged to have committed the offence, there was no likelihood of you driving the vehicle. In other words – you were not going to drive your car whilst over the limit. This is a difficult defence to prove, as a supervisor of a learner driver found out in 1995 – the court rejected his defence that there was no likelihood of him driving during a lesson, pointing out that he might have taken the wheel as a last resort.
It is also a defence to both charges to show that you tested over the prescribed limit as a result of post-incident drinking. This is a technical defence that will require the evidence of an expert witness to be presented to the court at trial.
From Police Scotland’s summer campaign then, 238 drivers will face becoming disqualified drivers. They will have to find alternative transport to work, or even new employment if their job is dependent on their licence. Their family lives will no doubt also be impacted. The message to take from the campaign is that it is not worth the risk – if you are going to be consuming alcohol, make sure you have made alternative arrangements for getting home that do not involve you driving.
How we can help
If you do find yourself charged with any of the offences mentioned in this article, Jackson Boyd Lawyers can assist you in your defence. We can represent you in court and thoroughly test all of the evidence against you. Contact our Road Traffic Defence team on 0141 413 8017 for expert advice.