If you are stopped by the police while driving (and the police do not require a reason to stop you, so that’s something that can happen even if you’re driving perfectly with no faulty brake lights or any other kind of issue) they can demand to see any or all of your three principle driving documents, ie driver’s licence, MOT certificate and insurance. If you don’t have the required document available, you will have 7 working days to present it at a police station or you will be given a fine. Aside from a request to check your documents, though, the police can decide to give you an alcohol breath test.
If you refuse to give a breath test you will probably be arrested. If you fail a breath test you will also be arrested – that’s drink driving law, but it’s far from the end of the story. From there you will have to provide further breath and/or blood samples and, if you’re still over the limit (35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath in England and Wales, 22 micrograms in Scotland; or 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in England and Wales, 50 milligrammes in Scotland), you will be formally charged. Time to gather yourself a legal team.
Penalties for being convicted of drink driving are severe and include a mandatory ban of one year, possibly six months in prison and an unlimited fine. But before you even receive those penalties, you’ll have to pay for the seizure and recovery of your vehicle, miss out on work days, incur points on your driver’s licence, and later deal with a rise in your insurance premiums.
It’s not all bad news, though. Although the penalties are severe, if you have a professional motor lawyer on your side, you can limit some of the damage. Drink driving law may stipulate certain fines and outcomes if you are found to be guilty, but a driving ban can still be avoided by arguing a case of ‘exceptional hardship’. So while drink driving is a serious crime, and you can certainly expect to pay a fine, it doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be forced off the roads for twelve months.