Will I lose my business if I plead guilty to drink driving?

If you are charged with drink driving,then, you will likely require the services of specialist drink driving solicitors, who will seek to either defend you against the charges, or limit any penalty that you incur.

Even though it is often assumed that if you are convicted of such a charge it is impossible to avoid a ban, experienced drink driving solicitors can in fact attain extremely high success rates in defending their clients (90 per cent or higher). There are strict legal criteria that need to be met for certain penalties to be administered and, by having a complete understanding of those criteria and the full breadth of challenges that can be made in defence of a client, a skilled motor lawyer may well be able to save you and your business from the detrimental impact of a driving ban.

Pleading not-guilty

To successfully defend a not-guilty plea you may have to demonstrate that the scientific evidence (ie the sample tests) is unreliable. An example of how this could be achieved would be to claim that the breath test was somehow compromised – perhaps because of how the sensors were calibrated or because of there being another substance or high, naturally occurring acetone levels in your breath that could have interfered with the results. But the equipment now available to the police is so highly sophisticated that courts are often unsympathetic to such a defence.

Similarly, showing that the police failed to follow proper procedure, or that there was a case of emergency, or that the driver’s drink was laced, can be difficult for a defence unless there is very clear evidence of this being the case.

Reducing the penalty

Since an unreasonable or desperate defence may be viewed unfavourably and lead to a harsher penalty, it is wise to consider any not-guilty plea extremely carefully. Furthermore, unless there is very strong evidence to support a not-guilty plea, it is often advised to accept responsibility for the offence and take steps to reduce the penalty.

Aside from showing contrition and a proactive attitude towards dealing with a possible drink problem – such as by enrolling on a drink driving rehabilitation course, for example, which may reduce the length of a ban by a quarter – a specialist drink driving solicitor may be able to demonstrate that a driving ban would bring about a case of “exceptional hardship”, where it is shown that a penalty would be unreasonably damaging to the offender. For instance, the court could be persuaded that the offender’s driving licence is essential to their livelihood or business practice – as indeed is often the case.

Although there is no guarantee that even the best-prepared defence will be successful, and while it remains important to recognise the severity of any drink driving charge, it is also important to appreciate the value of experienced, professional support. The cost of a drink driving conviction may be very high – insurance premiums, the damage to your business, relationships – but with the right legal team, the prospects of reducing any penalty and impact on your business are high, also.

Image: Shutterstock

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