Drink Driving Guide

Read our ‘Drink Driving Guide’ to learn about drink driving limits, penalties and rehabilitation schemes.

Published: 15th November 2016

First introduced in 1965, the drink-drive limit sets out the legal blood alcohol levels when operating vehicles.

Casualties have fallen in the last 50 years, but have plateaued in the last 5 years, and drink driving is still a concern for motorists and pedestrians. Read below to learn more about drink driving limits and penalties, with the information provided by ALA GAP Insurance.

Drink Driving Limit

There are strict alcohol limits in the UK. However, factors such as a person’s weight, age, sex and metabolism make it difficult to say how many drinks that equals for each person.

Level of alcohol England, Wales and N. Ireland Scotland
Micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath 35 22
Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood 80 50
Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine 107 67

Note: Limits in Scotland differ to the rest of the UK.

Drink Driving Penalties

The Drink Driving Penalties in the UK are equally strict, despite Scotland’s different limits. In fact, The Institute of Advanced Motorists calculated that drink drive convictions cost between £20,000 – £50,000 as a result of fines, solicitor’s fees, increase in car insurance and loss of job.

The penalties for being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit include:

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

The penalties for driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit include:

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

The penalties for refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis include:

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

The penalties for causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink include:

  • 14 years’ imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a ban from driving for at least 2 years

High Risk Offenders Scheme

Motorists who’ve had their licence taken away will need to re-take and pass their driving test before their licence is returned. Motorists who are considered to be ‘high risk offenders’ will only get their licence back once they’ve passed a medical examination.

High risk offenders include those who:

  • were convicted of 2 drink-driving offences within 10 years
  • were driving with an alcohol reading of at least 87.5 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, 200 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or 267.5 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine
  • refused to give the police a sample of breath, blood or urine to test for alcohol
  • refused to allow a sample of blood to be tested for alcohol (e.g. if it was taken while unconscious)

Medical examination with a DVLA doctor

High risk offenders will receive an application form from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) 90 days before their disqualification ends. The cost of the medical examination will need to be covered by the motorist and includes:

  • a questionnaire about medical history and use of alcohol
  • a physical examination
  • blood tests

Drink Driving Consequences

As well as losing their licence and facing a possible conviction, motorists who are found guilty of drink driving could find:

  • their car insurance premiums dramatically increase
  • their employers seeing the conviction on the licence
  • difficulties being allowed to travel to countries like America

Click here to read more Guides ALA Connect.

Published: 15th November 2016
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