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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69509
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have been charged with drink driving last Friday evening,

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Hello. I have been charged with drink driving last Friday evening, 4 times over the limit. Nobody else involved. No accident. Clearly i will plead guilty. It's a first time offence, never been in trouble before in any sort of kind, no previous criminal convictions, a clean driving licence, i have genuine remorse, the distance to be driven was 3 to 3.5 miles, fully accepting what I did was wrong, it will not happen again.
In this situation, do i need someone to represent me at court? I will draft a letter to the above effect to the Magistrate and ask my emplyer for a charachter reference because this was out of charachter.
What is my likely sentence? I am worried because i was 4 times over although i wasn't charged with dangerous driving or endangering others, but charged with being over the alcohol limit whilst driving a car.
It is a bad idea to represent myself? Is it worth me hiring a solicitor when i will present the above and plead gulity as charged. I have no excuses to present because it was inexcusable.
When asked how did it happen the truth i will say is i only intended to have 2 pints of beer with some food (which i did) after work but then i got talking to others and had more to drink. This meant i got drunk and i lost all sense of responisbility and did something very very stupied and irresponsible that will never happen again.
I should have left the car where it was and got a taxi but this option didn't eneter my mind because i had no sense of logic nor responsibility due to alcohol.
Like a lot of other people charged with drink driving, i have done this before but not been caught although never to the alcohol limit i was on this occasion. Should i admit to previous stupidities when asked or would it damage my sentence. I am really worried about getting a custodial sentence.
Thank you very much for all advice received.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What would you like to know about this please?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

In this situation, do you advise i need a solicitor to represent me at court?

Is it a bad idea to represent myself?

What is my likely sentence?

Like a lot of other people charged with drink driving, i have done this before but not been caught although never to the alcohol limit i was on this occasion. Should i admit to previous stupidities when asked or would it damage my sentence. I am really worried about getting a custodial sentence.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Do you accept being four times over the limit?
That would be a reading of over 160?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The charge reads ".......the proportion of alcohol in my breathe, namely 136 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath......."

The Police said this was 4 times over.

I accept thereading - is this 4 times over?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you.
That is a high reading I'm afraid. Unfortunately it is in the highest sentencing bracket. The advantage that you do half is that at least there are no other aggravating factors that you mention here and you will plead guilty.
I'm afraid though that you are at risk of a short custodial sentence. The sentencing guidelines say that the starting point for anything over 120 in breath is 12 weeks custody.
If you can bear the cost than a solicitor would be a good idea although since you are at risk of custody the duty solicitor might well be able to act for you.
It probably would be a bad idea to represent yourself. There is absolutely no sense in admitting to any other offence than the one that they can prove.
Despite the starting point being custody, if you plead guilty then probably that would knock it down into a high-level community order or a suspended sentence. I am afraid that you will be banned for between 29 to 36 months though and there will be costs of £85 and the court charge of roughly £150.
You can ask to do the drink-driving awareness course and that will reduce your ban by one quarter.
Do not drive to court. You will be disqualified and unable to drive home.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your honesty, i now even more appreciate how stupid and irresponsible i have been.

The desk sargent said he had never seen anyone get a custodial sentence for a first offence, even when highlighting the high reading to me. Hence i am shocked by your response re possible custody.

When you say "Despite the starting point being custody, if you plead guilty then probably that would knock it down into a high-level community order or a suspended sentence" Is this your experience or is a custodial sentence still possible in your experience - especially for a first offence and no other criminal convictions.

Should i say as a result of the charge i am seeking help from my GP for an alcohol problem, or would it harm my case to admit to this?

A short custodial sentence would mean i lose my job of 20 years standing. I cannot afford to lose my income due to supporting my family household expenses. My wife's job is currently at risk which would mean we could lose the family home. Should i make reference to this?

I will get in touch with a solicitor tomorrow - should it be a drink driving / motoring specialist?

Thank you, ***** ***** is very much apprecaited and has opended my mind that i need legal representation.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
No, people do not normally gets custodial sentences on first offences although custody sergeants are not a good source of legal advice.
In terms of seeking help, it depends really. It is one of those points in mitigation that could go either way and it depends how the bench are reacting. I think given the reading that it will probably be that they do think that there is an alcohol problem and so seeking help would be beneficial.
You can comment upon the impact of a custody sentence. It isn't something that they should be considering when passing sentence but they generally do.
In terms of experience, it really depends. They used to be a judge sitting at the old Bow Street magistrates Court who used to send people to prison on first offences for readings of over 40. It always amazed me that nobody ever seemed to appeal him or if they did it did not deter him. Generally speaking though courts will be slow to send anybody to prison on a first offence.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your advice Jo, it is very much appreciated and as a result i will consult a solicitor tomorrow because i wouldn't want to risk the Duty Solicitor because i think i can only see him / her on the day itself and this in itself would cause me no end of worry.

Whilst your advice is deeply worrying i am so glad that i looked up this service and "thank you" for your honest responses. I will be rating you in the highest category.

As a final question, any idea how much a solicitor will charge? I ask because i haven't the time to shop around and compare costs because my court appearance is on 19th May only 2 weeks away. Hence i just need a general feel for value for money cost range.

Thanks again

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
No problem.
Just to make clear that although the sentencing guidelines do say the starting point is custody you would probably avoid it.
You will probably find that a barrister and the public access is much cheaper than a solicitor. A barrister and public access woods charge probably between 300+ VAT up to £1000 plus VAT. The difference really comes down to seniority. the truth though is that seniority really doesn't make much difference here. This is bog standard road traffic and you don't need somebody of 20 years call with their increased cost to do that.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks Jo

When you say "Just to make clear that although the sentencing guidelines do say the starting point is custody you would probably avoid it"

I know you have to use the word "probably" and that's fine because you can't say 100% because it depens on the Magistrate concerned and no doubt their mood on the day towards a high reading drink driver first time offender

In my circumstances, given i accept the ban, the court costs, fine imposed, the high level community order and that my sole desire is to avoid any form of custodial sentence, rather than seek a legal rep beforehand can i probably rely on securing my sole aim by speaking with the duty solicitor on the day and explain my sole aim and acceptance of any other sentence?

And can i speak with him / her before the court date?

I am assuming the duty solicitor is at NIL cost ? Is this right?

Sorry for keeping on hassling you

Thank again Jo

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
There are no guarantees about a duty solicitor. It seems to me that since there is a risk of custody it would be included in the scheme.
Yes, you will be able to discuss your case with him before. In fairness, you probably would have longer with a privately paying representative.
The duty solicitor is free.
It is no problem. You can ask follow up questions.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

To clarify, can i see the duty solicitor before the court appearance date? Or is it ony on the day if i turn up early and no gurantees to see him/her? Although it's likely i can see him/her given sentencing starting point.

Should i provide an employer reference explaining the offence is out of charachter? And with employer setting out my positives.

Should i write a letter to the Magistrate? setting out my remorse and mitigation - i.e. nobody else involved. No accident. It's a first time offence, never been in trouble before in any sort of kind, no previous criminal convictions, a clean driving licence, i have genuine remorse, the distance to be driven was short 3 to 3.5 miles, fully accepting what I did was wrong, it will not happen again.

Also what is a high level community order likely to be; and can i do this in the evenungs and/or weekends? This is because i work 9 - 5 Mon - Fri

Thanks again Jo

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
You will see him but on the day of the appearance.
Character references are always good.
I wouldn't write a letter. Let your representative address them and then you can be sure they won't hear anything that amounts to aggravation.
They will work around your commitments. I would expect an alcohol order though given the reading.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

What's an alchol order?

Based on probably i won't get a custodial sentence, is it probably best I go with the duty solicitor on the day?

Or seek private representation?

Thank you

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
A community order designed to address alcohol issues.
The duty solicitor will not give you such a personal service but he is free.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

And finally

Will the prosecution address me direct? What kind of questions?

Will the magistrates address me direct? What kind of questions?

Thanks again Jo

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
No.
All you will be asked is your name and your plea.
Your representative should do everything else.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

That's a relief !

"Huge thank you" for the advice today Jo, the best £37 I have ever spent

Best wishes and take care x

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
No problem.
All the best.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69509
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
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