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Drunk in Charge

Section 5(1) (b) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides that if a person is in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, having consumed alcohol above the prescribed legal limit, they may be guilty of a criminal offence.

Many people are unaware that merely being in charge of a vehicle whilst over the legal alcohol limit is an offence and often innocent motorists who are simply sleeping, or sitting in their vehicle have found themselves facing serious charges despite the fact that they have not actually driven or attempted to drive a vehicle. Although a Drunk in Charge allegation is not as serious as Drink Driving, if found guilty you will not only be in receipt of a criminal record but it will also cause serious implications on your ability to drive.

The legal limits for Drunk in Charge cases are as follows and mirror the levels of alcohol in Drink Driving cases:

  • 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath
  • 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood
  • 107mg of alcohol in 100ml of urine


You may have a defence if you can show the Court that although you may have consumed excess alcohol, there was no intention to drive whilst over the prescribed limit and if the Court believes this then you may avoid a conviction altogether.

To be convicted for drunk in charge, it is necessary for the prosecution to merely prove that you were in charge of a motor vehicle and that at this time you were above the legal limit to drive. The burden of proof then shifts to you to show the Court that although you were in charge whilst above the prescribed limit, you did not in fact have intention to drive and you would need to prove this on the balance of probabilities.

We are specialist motoring law solicitors in Drunk in Charge cases having secured not guilty verdicts for most of our clients. If you had no intention to drive, contact us today for a free consultation. Upon discussing your circumstances we will ascertain from you crucial evidence which may be used to support the argument that you had no intention to drive whilst above the legal limit.  In most instances it would also be vital to secure expert forensic evidence to support your case. It would be necessary to use all this evidence to prove to the Court that you did not have intention to drive.

Special Reasons

In circumstances where no defence can be put forward, it may be possible to save your licence by arguing ‘Special Reasons’. Please see our section of Law on Special Reasons for more information on this area.

Pleading Guilty (in the event you have no defence)

If you do not have a defence to the allegation, then the aim is to carry out damage limitation with a view to securing the most lenient sentence. The sentence for Drunk in Charge is the endorsement of a minimum of 10 penalty points on your licence or alternatively a driving disqualification and a fine.

Unlike drink driving, a disqualification from driving following conviction for this offence is not mandatory. It is possible therefore to argue that a disqualification should not be imposed. Whether a disqualification is imposed is dependent on the way the case is presented before the Court, the use of supporting evidence as well as the level of alcohol recorded. It is of fundamental importance that the Court is presented with relevant background and information in a coherent and structured fashion; this will give you the best possible chance of avoiding a ban.

Exceptional Hardship

If you have pre-existing penalty points on your driving licence then you will be facing a 6 month disqualification under the totting up provisions in the event you plead guilty or are convicted of drunk in charge. The period of disqualification may be even longer, if you have previously been disqualified from driving.

If you are at risk of a 6 month disqualification, please see our section on Exceptional Hardship

Contact us

If you are being prosecuted for being Drunk in Charge, call us now on free consultation on 0800 644 1544. Alternatively, if you would like us to call you, fill in our Contact us form and one of our specialist lawyers will contact you to discuss your case at a time to suit you.

Our specialist representation involves thorough preparation of your case. One of our specialist lawyers will be allocated to your case personally straight away and will be on hand for advice.

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