I was stopped for drink driving last week when I was going to the shops. I fully accept I was above the limit and I truly regret what I have done. It is very out of character for me. My reading was 43 in breath. I don’t think it’s that high.
I have read online that you can argue exceptional hardship to avoid ban. Is this something you can help with?
For the reading given you will be at risk of a 12-16-month disqualification and an unlimited fine. However, unfortunately drink driving carries a mandatory, minimum 12-month disqualification. There is no discretion for the courts not to disqualify. If you plead guilty, you will be banned.
The best sentence you can hope for is a 12 month ban together with the option to complete a drink drive rehabilitation course which, when completed, would take 1/4 off the ban.
It is different from, for example, a totting disqualification. When a person accumulates 12 or more points during a three-year period, they are at risk of a 6-month ban, but that is discretionary, and the courts don’t have to ban you. They can consider an exceptional hardship argument and decide not to disqualify. They cannot do that with drink driving cases.
If you want to try to avoid the disqualification, we will need to discuss the offence with you in more detail and review the papers so that we can advise if there is any defence.
There are two ways to defend the case, the first is to attack the prosecution case. That means that we need to enter a not guilty plea to obtain all of the evidence against you, go through the procedures bit by bit and see if there are any mistakes fatal enough to undermine their case to the point you would be found not guilty. It would be about undermining the reliability of their evidence.
The second way to win a case is to advance a positive defence case, where we might accept the police case (ie that you were driving and also gave a positive specimen at the police station), but that you only drove a very short distance of a few yards, or perhaps it was an emergency, or that your drinks were laced, or that you drank all of the alcohol after driving.
If you are found not guilty after a trial, or there are special reasons not to disqualify on this basis, then you would avoid a disqualification. However I would like to speak with you before you do this as there is very little point in entering such a plea without merit.
Ultimately if you lose after presenting an unsuccessful defence or special reason, you lose credit in sentencing meaning higher fines, costs and potentially a longer disqualification. I would therefore strongly advise only entering this plea if you have a genuine case with merits, otherwise you are just making things worse for yourself.