Understanding Drink Driving convictions

Understanding the different convictions that can be issued if found guilty of drink driving.

TTC Group | Drink Driving Conviction Breathalyser

If you are found guilty of drink driving, you could be imprisoned, banned from driving and face a fine.  

The actual penalty you may receive is decided by the magistrates who hear your case, and depends on the details of your offence.

You may be eligible to reduce your driving ban by completing one of TTC's Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) courses if you’re banned from driving for 12 months or more.  It is up to the court to offer this.

Drink Driving Sentencing Guidelines

Anyone convicted of a Drink Driving related offence will face either an obligatory (definite) or discretionary (possible) driving disqualification, depending on the specifics of the offence committed.

Once discharged from Police custody following a Drink Driving offence, you will be issued with documentation regarding the Drink Driving offence, including the level of alcohol detected by Police.

The table below details the guidelines followed by Magistrates (England & Wales only) for the sentencing options for your specific circumstances.

Drink Driving Conviction Sentencing Table

So for example, the offence of driving a vehicle while exceeding the maximum legal alcohol limit carries a minimum mandatory driving disqualification of 12 months.  While being in charge of a vehicle while exceeding the maximum legal alcohol limit carries a discretionary driving disqualification.  In instances where no disqualification is imposed, then a minimum of 10 penalty points will be imposed on an offenders' driving licence.

Regardless of whether or not a driving disqualification is imposed, a driving licence endorsement will be added to an offenders' driving licence and will remain for between 4 and 11 years, depending on the offence.  Any DVLA driving licence verification check will show any endorsements.

Additional penalties can include fines, community orders, court costs, compensation and in serious cases a custodial prison sentence.

We have detailed below the most common Drink Drive convictions, along with the possible outcomes and associated DVLA endorsement codes.

Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink:    Road Traffic Act 1988, s.4(2)

You may get:

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

If convicted, you will receive either of the following DVLA Endorsement Code(s) on your driving licence: DR20, DR80

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink:    Road Traffic Act 1988, s.5(1)(a)

You may get:

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)

If convicted, you will receive the following DVLA Endorsement Code on your driving licence: DR10

Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis:    Road Traffic Act 1988, s.7(6)

You may get:

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a ban from driving for at least 1 year

If convicted, you will receive either of the following DVLA Endorsement Code(s) on your driving licence: DR30, DR60

Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink:    Road Traffic Act 1988, s.3A

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

If convicted, you will receive either of the following DVLA Endorsement Code(s) on your driving licence: CD40, CD60

It is also worth noting that high-risk offenders do not automatically get your licence back.

TTC is the largest provider across the UK of drink drive rehabilitation courses. The course has been fully approved by the Department of Transport (DfT), the Llywodraeth Cymru/Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure.

Drink Drive Alcohol Walk

How else can a Drink Drive conviction affect me?

Other problems you could face as a result of a Drink Drive conviction include:

  • 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

Visit TTC's Drink Drive course page to find out how we can reduce your driving ban by up to 25%.

All conviction and legal information is current and correct at the date of publishing, sources under the Open Government Licence v3.0 (OGL) from GOV.UK

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