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Drink-Driving Sentencing Guidelines

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Drink Driving Sentencing Guidelines


What are the drink-driving sentencing guidelines?



The Drink-driving sentencing guidelines are a set of rules and principles used by the Magistrate or judge to determine a penalty for those charged. The guidelines take into account many factors, such as the severity of the offence, any harm caused, and your personal circumstances.


Within the guidelines, there are minimum and maximum penalties for different levels of alcohol in an offender's blood, urine, or breath. Repeat offenders face harsher penalties, as do those with higher alcohol readings. Aggravating factors and mitigating factors are also taken into account. Aggravating factors are factors that will likely negatively impact your case, and mitigating factors will likely help your case. We will look at both more in-depth in the following article.


 Sentencing Guidelines for Drink-Driving Offences


Drink driving carries a mandatory ban of 12 months, as you may know, and the penalties for first-time and repeat drink driving offences differ greatly in how lenient the magistrate or judge will be towards your case.

Here is an overview of the drink-driving sentencing guidelines in the UK:



Blood (ml)Urine (ml)Starting PointRangeDisqualificationDisqualification (2nd offence in 10 years)
36 - 59

81- 137

108 - 183Band C FineBand B - Band C Fine12 - 16 months36 - 40 months
60 - 89


184 - 274Band C FineBand C Fine - Low-level community order17 - 22 months36 - 46 months
90 - 119207 - 275275 - 366Medium-level community orderLow-level community order to high-level community order23 - 28 months36 - 52 months
120 - 150 and above276 - 345 and above367 - 459 and above12 weeks custodyHigh-level community order to 26 weeks custody29 - 36 months36 - 60 months



Factors considered in sentencing Drink-driving offenders:


Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

There are two categories of factors that are taken into account within the Drink Driving Sentencing Guidelines and determine whether you receive or do not receive a drink-driving conviction and whether you get to keep your licence or not.

Aggravating factors (factors likely to be detrimental)

Mitigating factors (factors likely to be beneficial)


What factors can aggravate a drink-driving sentence?



Aggravating factors may increase the severity of the sentence. Examples include:

●      previous convictions relating to the nature of the offence

●      if the driver was carrying passengers

●      evidence of an unacceptable standard of driving

●      if the driver was involved in an accident.

●      if there was a high level of traffic or pedestrians in the vicinity.

Drink Driving Sentencing Guidelines

What factors can mitigate a drink-driving sentence?



Mitigating factors may reduce the severity of the sentence. Examples include:

●      no previous convictions or relevant or recent convictions

●      if it was a genuine emergency.

●      if the driver’s drinks had been spiked.

●      A short length of distance driven

●      if the driver showed remorse or was of good character

●      if the driver has a serious medical condition, mental disorder, or learning disability.

●      if the driver is the sole or primary carer for dependent relatives


Drink Driving Sentencing Guidelines



Factors indicating higher culpability


  • LGV, HGV, PSV, etc.
  • Poor road or weather conditions
  • Carrying passengers
  • Driving for hire or reward
  • Evidence of an unacceptable standard of driving

Factors indicating a greater degree of harm


  • Involved in an accident
  • Location, e.g., near school
  • High level of traffic or pedestrians in the vicinity.

  Factors indicating lower culpability

  • A genuine emergency has been established.
  • Spiked drinks
  • Very short distance driven




Pleading Guilty or Not Guilty to a Drink Driving Charge




When making the decision to plead guilty or not guilty, it is essential to consider any mitigating and aggravating factors that may be present in your case. It is also essential to seek legal advice and have a specialist drink-driving solicitor such as the team here at Parnell and Peel present alongside you to maximise your chances of the best outcome available in your case. 

Bear in mind that if you plead guilty, you will be subject to mandatory drink-driving disqualification, the length of which is dependent on the severity of the offence. There are multiple ways to avoid a disqualification altogether more information feel free to call us at 01484 599888 .



If you do decide to plead not guilty, you will need to provide substantial evidence that supports your case. This can be:


●      Exceptional Hardship: This defence relies on the fact that the driving disqualification will cause hardship for yourself or a third party, e.g., friends or family.


●      The accuracy of the breathalyser: This defence challenges the reliability of the breathalyser and the procedure.


●      The correctness of the MGDDA procedure: This defence involves challenging how the police carried out the procedure and how accurately the procedure was recorded in the MGDDA form. This is one of our most successful defences, as we find the police, due to the time-sensitive nature of drink-driving, find it hard to correctly follow procedure and accurately complete the MGDDA.


●      Not in Charge or Vehicle: This defence entails arguing that you were not in charge of the vehicle at the time of the offence and challenging evidence if any of you were in control of the vehicle.


Attending court for drink-driving




Whether it's your first offence or otherwise, going to court can be one of the most daunting experiences of one's life. That's why we believe it's vital to have an expert drink-driving solicitor present to help guide you through the legal perplexities and loopholes in your case, provide you with the best possible outcome, and mitigate any charges.


As you may know, legal aid is usually not provided with drink-driving offences, and you will need to hire a solicitor or otherwise may have to represent yourself, which we do not recommend. Contact Parnell and Peel today for a free consultation.




Reasons to Choose a Specialist


●      Review of evidence:  We can review the evidence against you, such as the breathalyser results, and identify any weaknesses in the prosecution's case.


●      Advise you on pleading guilty or not guilty:  We can advise you on whether you should plead guilty or not guilty on the basis of the intrinsic details of your case.


●      Identifying Mitigating Factors: We can help you identify any mitigating factors that can help you avoid a disqualification or reduce the length of your ban.


●      Challenging the procedure: We can help you challenge how the police conducted the procedure and how accurately the right protocols were followed.


●      Negotiating with the prosecution: We can help you negotiate with the prosecution to secure a lower disqualification and lower the severity of the consequences.


What are the Fines and How much Will they be?





Starting Point


Fine B and A

50% of relevant weekly income

25 - 75% of relevant weekly income

Fine B and B

100% of relevant weekly income

75-125% of relevant weekly income

FIne B and C

150% of relevant weekly income

125-175% of relevant weekly income


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)




Can I avoid a driving ban for drink-driving by claiming exceptional hardship?

Yes, you can avoid a ban by using exceptional hardship as a mitigating factor, to persuade the court that the driving ban will cause hardship on you or others.

How many points will I get for drinking and driving?

For drink driving, if you are convicted, you will receive between 3 and 11 penalty points, depending on the severity of your offence.

How can I challenge the MGDDA procedure in a drink-driving case?

To challenge the MGDDA procedure, you would need to prove that there was a fault in how the test was carried out or that the results of the test were inaccurate due to reasons such as inaccurate calibration of the machine. As an established drink-driving firm, we have dealt with and successfully won numerous cases with this argument in court.

What is the minimum sentence for drink driving in the UK?

The minimum sentence for drunk driving is a 12-month ban, but the actual sentence is dependent on various factors such as mitigating and aggravating factors and how much alcohol was present in your bloodstream.

How long after drinking and driving do you go to court?

The police will give you a date to appear in court after a few days, and the timeframe for when you appear in court can vary depending on the availability of the court. In general, you can expect your date to be in the range of a few weeks to a few months.