Being drunk in charge of a vehicle is a criminal offence in the UK. It means being in control of a vehicle while you are in excess of the prescribed limit for alcohol or drugs.
Drunk in charge of a vehicle
This might leave you wondering what it means to be ‘in charge’ of a vehicle? It is a good question, but unfortunately, there is no set definition.
But we can tell you this – to be guilty of this offence, you do not have to be driving. You do not even have to be in the driver’s seat or have the keys in the ignition. Rather, you must be -
- Over the prescribed limit for alcohol or drugs
- In a public place
- Have the intention to drive while over the limit
If you were not over the prescribed limit or you were on private property, the prosecution’s case is a non-starter. The third point, however, is often more ambiguous – did you intend to drive while over the prescribed limit, or was there a likelihood that you would?
This catches many people unaware. The laws surrounding drink driving are well-known, and you might strongly deny ever having the intention to drive while over the prescribed limit. Yet the police might not see it that way.
Examples of being drunk in charge of a vehicle
For example, imagine you go out for a drink and have one too many. You might decide to sleep it off in your car until the next morning. The same might apply if you miss the last bus home, or lose your friends who are putting you up for the night.
Whatever the reason, you end up in your car, or in the general vicinity. Maybe you put the keys in the ignition out of habit, or you turn the engine on to keep warm. Or maybe you’re even curled up asleep in the back seat.
Should the police find you in any of these scenarios, they could argue that you are in charge of a vehicle – and indeed, that your actions point towards an intention to drive while drunk, or the likelihood of driving while drunk.
Penalties for being drunk in charge of a vehicle
If you are found guilty of being drunk in charge of a vehicle, you could face -
- Up to 10 penalty points
- A discretionary disqualification
- Up to three months in prison
- Other penalties, such as a fine or community service
Defending the charges
However, there are various possible defences that can be used. Our drink driving solicitors can examine your case before suggesting the best approach.
It might be that you were not actually over the prescribed limit or you were not on public property. If these lines of defence do not apply, then it is necessary to establish that you had no intention of driving while over the prescribed limit, or that there was no likelihood of you driving while over the limit.
Contact us now
Have you been charged with being drunk in charge of a vehicle? Lots of people are shocked to find themselves facing such allegations, and many say they did not realise it was a criminal offence.
Each case is different and the best approach depends entirely on the circumstances. Let us advise you further.
To speak to our drink driving specialists, please contact us now.