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Drunk in charge of a vehicle

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drunk in charge

What is drunk in charge of a vehicle ?



Most clients that come to us are unaware that although they make the decision not to drive their vehicle whilst above the prescribed alcohol limit they could still be charged for the offence of drunk in charge of a vehicle

According to section 5 of the RTA:

 “A person who drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place or is in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in  their breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit, is guilty of an offence.

In terms of proving that the person was in charge of the vehicle whilst above the limit the burden lies on the prosecution in order to put forward evidence to show that the motorist was in fact in charge . If the motorist can prove that there was no likelihood of them driving the vehicle whilst above the prescribed alcohol limit there is no offence .


 Alcohol Limits



Level of Alcohol

Micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath: 35

Milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood: 80

Milligrams per 100 millilitres of urine: 107


Factors determining whether the motorist was in charge



Factors that can determine whether a motorist was in charge of the vehicle can be :  

  • Where the motorist was sitting in the vehicle:

For example if the motorist was found sat in the driving seat of the car with the keys in the ignition this would likely be  classed as in charge by the magistrate

  • Where the keys to the vehicle were.

  • If the engine was on or not. 

  • Evidence of driving if present:

              This could include a warm engine , witnesses and fresh tyre tracks. 

  • Intent to drive 

Please note that although these factors are used in order to determine whether the motorist was in charge of the vehicle the motorist can still be charged with the offence if they are sat in the passenger or back seat . The circumstances surrounding the case as well as the factors above will be considered by the magistrate to make a decision.


 What constitutes showing intent to drive?


The motorists intent to drive will be determined by the circumstances and factors surrounding the case . Intent to drive can be determined by things such as location of the vehicle if the motorist is parked outside of a bar at night and found with his/her keys in their possession it will more likely be deemed by the magistrate that they were in charge of the vehicle. Witness statements of the motorist saying they will drive , and whether the individual is in the driving seat will also be considered to make a decision on whether the motorist intended to drive or not . However if intent to drive is not found in your case you can still be charged with the offence if you are found to be in charge of the vehicle .


Drunk in charge while stationary and asleep


Most individuals are more than aware that driving whilst above the prescribed alcohol limit is an offence however few are aware that they could also be charged with an offence simply by being in control of a vehicle whilst above the prescribed alcohol or drug limit. Over the years many clients have come to us who have after an event where they are above the alcohol limit and unfit to drive make the decision to sleep in their car in order to avoid driving home whilst above the limit . However although they were not driving the vehicle they're still charged with the offence of being in charge of a vehicle whilst above the prescribed alcohol/drug limit. The offence of being drunk in charge of a vehicle is less severe in terms of penalties than drink driving but can still have dear consequences to the motorist .

If you have been charged with being drunk in charge of a vehicle whilst sleeping in your vehicle speak to one of our specialist motoring solicitors now at : 0330 341 1690.


Drunk in charge of a vehicle sentencing guidelines


When determining the appropriate penalties that the magistrate should impose on a motorist convicted of drunk driving, the sentencing guidelines are used to make a decision . Please find a table below of the penalties you can expect to face when charged with drunk in charge of a vehicle :  



Blood (ml)Urine (ml)Starting PointRangeDisqualification or Points
36 - 59

81- 137

108 - 183Band B FineBand A - Band C Fine10 points
60 - 89


184 - 274Band B FineBand B Fine - Band C FineDisqualification up to 6 months  or 10 points
90 - 119207 - 275275 - 366Band C Fine Band C Fine - Medium level community orderDisqualification up to 6 months  or 10 points
120 - 150 and above276 - 345 and above367 - 459 and aboveMedium level community orderLow level community order - 6 weeks custody6-12 month disqualification




The fines that you may face are categorised into bands which are shown below: 


As well as the sentencing guidelines other factors are also considered by the magistrate such as : 


Factors increasing severity 


  • Previous convictions

  • Offence committed whilst on bail

  • Failure to comply with current court orders

  • Offence committed on licence or post sentence supervision

  • In charge of goods vehicle, PSV etc

  • High likelihood of driving

  • Offering to drive for hire or reward


Factors decreasing severity


  • No previous convictions or no relevant/recent convictions

  • Low likelihood of driving

  • Spiked drinks 

  • Remorse

  • Good character and/or exemplary conduct

  • Serious medical condition requiring urgent, intensive or long-term treatment

  • Age and/or lack of maturity

  • Mental disorder or learning disability

  • Sole or primary carer for dependent relatives


How we defend drunk in charge offences


No likelihood of driving



The burden of proof lies on the prosecution to establish whether the motorist was in charge of the vehicle or not . With limiting and anecdotal evidence as to what happened this defence is extremely successful if put forward correctly . By crafting a defence where we put forward evidence of your intent , location and other reasons as to why you were not in charge of the vehicle then the charge is acquitted when the evidence points towards you not being in charge of the vehicle .


Procedural errors


One of the most important objections we've found over decades of dealing with Drunk in charge offences is questioning the validity of the procedure. Was the procedure carried out in accordance with the procedural guidelines when you were breathalysed?

Now the most important document relating to your case is the “MGDDA”.

The MGDDA stands for The Manual of Guidance on Drink and Drugs and is a set of procedural forms outlining the breath test procedure. Within the MGDDA the police are required to ask you specific questions required by law, if they fail to do so you are provided with an absolute defence.

Due to many reasons such as inexperienced officers and the time sensitive nature of drink driving offences we find in many cases the MGDDA is not completed correctly


Errors in testing


The breathalyser calibration process can be summarised in 3 steps:


  1. Measure the simulated exhaled air with a known concentration of alcohol and take down the reading.

  2. Turn on the calibration mode of the breathalyser and measure the simulated exhaled air again. The accuracy of the breathalyser will be adjusted should there be a sensor drift. 

  3. Repeat step 1 to verify that the breathalyser reading is accurate.


Now if any of these steps were not carried out correctly then the results of the sample is skewed and you are provided an absolute defence. Again due to the time sensitive nature of Drink Driving offences we find that many times that this step is skipped by the police in order to just charge the motorist as quickly as possible before the alcohol leaves their system


How we help



At Parnell and peel we specialise in solely drink driving related offences and have for 2 decades . Over the years we've built a long successful track record of motorists we've helped and expert legal defences we have constructed . If you want your case dealt with by a team of specialist solicitors focused on providing you with the best possible outcome in your drunk in charge offence contact us now at : 0330 341 1690.