The consequences of being found guilty of drink driving can be severe. If you are asking yourself, “Do I need a solicitor for drink driving charges?”, the real question is whether you can put up with the potential sentence.
This will include a mandatory driving ban and a fine. It may also include community service or even prison time if you have previous motoring offences on your record.
If you are asking yourself whether it is worth hiring a solicitor to defend you against a drink driving charge, here are the real questions you need to answer:
Do I need a solicitor for drink driving charges?
1) Is the ability to drive important to my life?
If you are found guilty of drink driving you will get an automatic driving ban. That is to say, you will need to walk or get a taxi or bus home from court.
You won't be able to get back behind the wheel.
This driving ban will last for a minimum of 12 months. The court isn't allowed to restrict that any further. However, it can increase the duration – up to 36 months in some cases – if your case was an especially egregious violation or if you have a history of similar offences.
For some people, losing the ability to drive for a year might be inconvenient but acceptable. For others, it's a disaster. Ask yourself:
- Will you be able to get to work if you can't drive?
- How much will using public transport for the duration of your ban cost you?
- If you can't get to work, will you need to find a new job?
If the answer to any of these questions is a worrying prospect, you will almost certainly want to consider getting legal advice.
2) Can I pay a drink driving fine?
The fine for drink driving can be anywhere up to £5000 (this is the maximum amount a magistrates' court is allowed to fine you).
In practice, it isn't usually this much. Again though, the severity of your case will affect the size of the punishment. If there were aggravating factors – perhaps there was an accident, you were also speeding, or you were very far over the limit, for example – the fine you receive is likely to be higher.
3) Am I risking community service or jail time?
Being arrested for drink driving becomes all the more serious if you have a recent history of similar offences. If this is the case, the court can impose a sentence of community service or up to six months in prison.
For most people, this is not something that you want to risk. It's not usually a danger if this is your first offence. However, it is well within the scope of the possible sentence if you have other motoring or alcohol-related offences on your record.
4) Can I speak effectively in my own defence?
If you are not familiar with the legal system, knowing how to speak and what to say in your own defence is very challenging. This matters from the moment the police first speak to you, throughout the time you are:
- At the police station when first arrested
- Communicating with the courts before possible trial
- In court for a drink driving charge
At every stage, having a legal expert to advise you what to say (and what not to say) as well as how to say it will help you work towards the best possible outcome.
5) Do I know the best way to defend myself?
The court system is effectively designed to be complex and not a little intimidating. There are many instances where knowing the system will enable you to improve the chances of getting the best possible outcome. For instance:
- Do you know whether it's best to plead guilty or not guilty? Because there's no guarantee that – even if you were found to be over the legal alcohol limit – pleading guilty is automatically the best strategy.
- Do you know exactly what evidence the Crown Prosecution Service has against you? Because they don't have to disclose it unless you know how to force them to. You may be able to get your case dismissed if mistakes were made.
This is where specialist legal advice is invaluable. Only a lawyer with extensive experience in the relevant laws will be able to guide you through the often confusing and oblique legal system and may even be able to prevent your case from going to trial.
Talk to a drink driving lawyer about your charge
Want to talk your drink driving charge over with a specialist solicitor with no cost or commitment?
DFR Solicitors has helped many, many people in your position. Reach out to us now on 033 03411690 or complete a Free Online Enquiry.