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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2850
Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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My 21 yr old niece is due in court monday 17/2 on drink driving

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My 21 yr old niece is due in court monday 17/2 on drink driving charge - 80/100 breath. She has clean driving licence (1yr 4mths) & this is first time she's ever been in any trouble of any kind.

She'd had two glasses of Rose wine & lemonade after work but had not eaten all day. She's also taking Levothyroxine for underactive thyroid (75mg daily) but is not sure if she'd taken tablets (or when she'd last eaten properly) as her whole world has gone to pieces recently since watching her mum collapse and die last October from a brain haemorrhage. There are four children and her dad has passed all responsibility to her for the family and running the household (including finances) since her mum died.

I've just received court papers and Key evidence statement says matter was reported at 23.30 on 4/1. Arresting officer statement confirms correct date and time as 21.40pm on 3rd Jan. We have a letter from the company she works for confirming driving is an important element of her job and I have done a character reference explaining about her mum etc.

Is the discrepancies in dates and times on the Police papers of relevance and have you any other suggestions as to how I can help her with this as I know her car is also her sanctuary and escape from home life. Thank you.
My name isXXXXX and I'm happy to help with your question today.

Please clarify: was there an accident? If not, why was she stopped by the police?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for coming back so quick. She was driving home on the A2/M2 and whilst overtaking another vehicle - she was caught by the heavy winds in january and sucked (her description) into the central barrier. She kept control but clipped the vehicle she had been overtaking as she came back off the barrier. She could not see a safe place to stop so continued off the motorway to a local petrol station - with the TP car following her - where she exchanged details. Unfortunately the TP called the Police as they weren't sure if she was going to stop - hence their attendance.


No-one was injured and she is paying for the damage to the TP car herself as her car was covered on her company insurance (and quite rightly she agreed with them it should not be their cost)

Thanks. Please bear with me for a few minutes while I type an answer.
Its not great news I'm afraid.

The reading is very high - more than twice the legal limit of 35 - and she was clearly driving. With this being the case she does not have a defence to driving with excess alcohol and will have to consider pleading guilty to the charge. The sentence for such a high reading will be a fine plus a mandatory ban of at least 17 months but it could be as high as 22 months because of the accident. If she is offered and completes the drink driver rehabilitation course, she could reduce the ban by 25% but will have to pay for the course herself.

The point made about the time is unlikely to relevant. Sadly the High Court has said on many occasions that minor technicalities will not prevent a prosecution from proceeding. If she pleads not guilty and raises the issue the prosecution lawyer will find a way to rectify the error with the date and time - bearing in mind: she clearly cannot dispute driving, failing to breath test and being arrested. So an error about what time she was arrested or reported is going to be immaterial to whether the procedure was carried out properly.

I have looked the chemical constituents of Levothyroxine but cannot see any indication that the contents would affect the breath reading. However, if she believes the breath alcohol reading would have been elevated by taking this medicine then she will have to instruct a scientist to consider the issue and prepare a report for the court. However, in over 20 years of dealing with motoring offences I have never seen such a medicine affect the breath reading to such a degree and, of course, the fact that she consumed alcohol anyway does not help.

The other points you raised about bereavement, family difficulties and employment will not prevent a disqualification I'm sorry to say. A disqualification is mandatory and the court has no discretion in the matter - a ban automatically follows in this situation although the circumstances, which amount to personal mitigation, might persuade the court to keep the ban to the minimum which is 17 months disqualification.

I wish I could give you more positive news but the harsh reality is that she has no defence on the facts and there is no point in me telling you fair tales to make you both feel better. I have given you an objective and honest opinion of the law.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hmmm - thank you Alex. I did kind of suspect this but thought it was worth getting clarification.

I am attending court with her on Monday and we were going to see if the duty solicitor could go in court with her as she is very nervous.


if the duty solicitor is not available/busy with others etc. Can you please just confirm when she should present the court with the letter from her company and my character reference letter. I appreciate what you are saying with regards XXXXX XXXXX driving ban - but I just think - if we don't try and see if they can be compassionate in view of her circumstances - we won't know.


I recognise I can not present the letter and reference for her so it is really preparing her for when she needs to offer them to the magistrates.


Any guidance you can offer with regards XXXXX XXXXX procedure would be appreciated. Thank you


No problem.

1. The duty solicitor will be able to help - but if he is busy you might have to wait a little while to be seen.

2. If the duty solicitor is not available she could instruct a solicitor privately - I usually charge a fixed fee of £350 plus VAT for such a hearing.

3. The procedure in court, regardless of whether she's represented or not, is as follows:

a. Your niece will enter the court room and be identified by name, addesss and date of birth.

b. The court clerk will ask if she's pleading guilty or not guilty.

c. Assuming she will plead guilty - the prosecutioj lawyer will then outline the case.

d. Your niece will get a chance to present her case - explain why the offence happened, the things that are happening in her life, her job, her good character and then present her letters.

e. The court will consider the prosecution facts and your niece's mitigation and annouce their sentence.

f. The ban will commence immediately and the end date will be announced by the Justices.

g. She will be fined and ordered to pay costs - she needs to be prepared to pay immediately or make a realistic offer of payment.

4. I appreciate this will be stressful but the Justices will give your niece enoigh time to explain her situation. If she feels uncomfortable speaking she can write a letter and present this to the court instead.

Hope this helps.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you Alex - I will pass this information to her so she has time to write a letter if she would prefer to do that rather than speak in court.


One final question though - how is it that we do sometimes read in National Newspapers of famous people prosecuted for drink driving where only 6 months bans are imposed.


Also - am I right in understanding that she cannot request to be put on a drink/driving rehabilitation programme to enable her to reduce the ban - she has to see if this option is offered to her by the court.

I have to say I'm not familiar with celebrities getting 6 months for drink driving - especially as the minimum ban is 12 months. Its possible those people were disqualified under the 'totting up' procedure, which is when a driver accumulates 12 or more penalty points for driving offences and the ban is then for 6 months. There are so many permutations that its impossible for me to say why there was such an outcome in those cases.

Regarding the course she ought to tell the court that she is willing to complete it. The court has the final say whether she can do the course or not - but usually this is not a problem for first time drink drive offences.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sorry Alex - just to clarify -


Are you saying that she can mention the course to the court and does not have to wait for them to suggest it?


Are you saying that the course is available for first time offenders?


Have you any idea of how much reduction she can get on the ban if the court agree she can do the course?


Sorry - keep asking but ....


Also - just a thought - she only passed her test in October 2012 - so less than 2 years - will this mean she may automatically have to retake her driving test when the ban is lifted?


Thank you


1. Yes - she can state that she's willing to do the course and does not have to wait for the court to raise it.

2. The course is only for first time offenders.

3. The maximum reduction is 25%.

4. The new drivers regulations apply tolicences being revoked as a rssult of 6 or more points being accumulated as opposed to disqualification. Eitherway it amounts to the same thing and she will have to take the test again.

On a separate note: the drink drive conviction will remain endorsed on her licence for 10 years. During that time a further drink drive conviction will result in an automatic ban of 3 years minimum.

Alice H and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you Alex for all your help.

I shall send the information to my niece so she is as prepared as she can be for Monday.


Now we can only leave it in the lap of the Gods and hope they look down kindly on her that day.


May your world always shine bright. I shall be rating you excellent:) but wanted to actually say thank you as well.






Thank you very much for your kind words. I wish you and your niece all the very best. Alex
Hi Julie

I am following up our conversation to see how you got on with the issue. If you need any further help then please let me know - remember I am a qualified UK Solicitor and able to help on most aspects of English Law. I am London based and usually able to respond to your query very quickly.

Alex Hughes
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Alex

The Court agreed to adjourn the matter with no plea until 3rd March so we can get all the papers from the Police.


They also agreed I could be the McKenzie Friend for my niece so that was helpful.


Your information was really helpful but I want to see all the papers first as they were not at the Court.


I sent a reminder letter to Police on 17th and copied it into Court for their records.


I'll let you know how it goes on the 3rd March.


Thanks for all your help.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Alex

I have requested information from the Police including but not restricted to the following:-


  • A transcript or detailed note of the original call reporting this matter to the Police

  • A transcript or detailed note of any other calls to the Police relating to this matter

  • A copy of the attending Police Officers Pocket Notebook entries

  • A copy of the Arresting Officers handwritten notes

  • A copy of the Interviewing Officers handwritten notes

  • A copy of all handwritten Police Officers notes

  • A copy of all/any Witness Statements

  • A copy of any CCTV footage

  • A copy of the Custody Record papers

  • A copy of the Taped Interview

  • A transcript of the Taped Interview

  • A transcript of any other conversations separate from the Taped Interview

  • Copies of any and all information relating to this matter held on the Police Records and Casefile


Are you able to tell me which of these bits of information my niece is legally entitled to bearing in mind 'Criminal Procedure Rules 2011' 'Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996' and 'Human Rights Act' as at the moment the Police are saying I can only have the custody records and the taped interview.


Any guidance you can offer would be appreciated. Thank you.