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I was sat in my car after drinking - am I guilty of a Criminal Offence?

View profile for Rachel  Gaffney
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Can I be arrested for sitting in my car drinking

Yes if you are sitting in the driver’s seat or are close to your car as if you are about to get in and drive it, the police can arrest you for being drunk in charge of a vehicle.

Can I be arrested for drunk in charge if I haven’t driven my car?

Yes in addition to the charge of drink driving when you are stopped by the police and test positive on a roadside breath test or show signs of intoxication you can be arrested for drunk in charge even if you weren’t seen driving.  

With the World Cup fast approaching  you may well find yourself socialising more. However should you have one too many and find yourself in charge of your motor vehicle, the police could arrest you.

What does drunk in charge mean?

The offence is committed if “a person is in charge of any motor vehicle on a road or other public place after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in their breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit they are guilty of an offence”.

The decision to prosecute depends on the facts of each individual case, the common cases before the Court are where a Defendant has been found inside a motor vehicle over the prescribed alcohol limit.

Am I guilty of drunk in charge if I wasn’t going to drive?

No to be guilty of drunk in charge, you must have been in control of the vehicle and had an intention to drive the vehicle whilst over the drink drive limit.

Is there a defence to drunk in charge?

Yes, if you can demonstrate that you had no intention of driving the vehicle while over the legal limit to drive then you have a defence to the charge. You would give evidence at trial to explain why you were in the car and whether you were going to drive. If the Magistrates accept you weren’t going to drive whilst over the limit they will find you not guilty of the offence. Johnson Astills can advise you on whether you have a defence to drunk in charge.

Do you need an expert in a drunk in charge case?

Sometimes we may need to instruct an expert on your behalf. This would be if we need to demonstrate to the court that by the time you were going to drive you wouldn’t have been over the limit. This is called a back calculation. Johnson Astills can advise you if you need an expert in a drunk in charge case.

What sentence will I get for being drunk in charge?

If you are convicted of being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle the court can impose a fine or even a custodial sentence of up to 3 months if your reading was very high.

Will I be banned if I am convicted of drunk in charge?

If you are convicted of drunk in charge the Magistrates do not have to disqualify you they can simply impose 10 points on your licence so provided you have a clean licence you will not be disqualified. The Magistrates do have a discretion to qualify you. their decision will depend upon the facts of your case. Johnson Astills can advise you on the likelihood of disqualification.  

How can we help?

Here at Johnson Astills we provide expert legal advice, should you find yourself accused of or charged with this offence please contact our offices where we will be able to advise you further.

Johnson Astills are experts in criminal law, and are able to assist 24 hours of the day whether at the police station or at Court. If you need advice or assistance from the criminal department at Johnson Astills , please contact us on 0116 255 4855.

To discuss any offences please contact our Criminal Defence Team at Johnson Astills at our Leicester office on 0116 2554855 or our Loughborough office on 01509 610312.