After a long 18 months I am finally back on the road. I found this forum just before my court date and have always found it very helpful. I thought I would make a few points about what I have learned about this whole sorry mess. These are just my opinions and observations :

Solicitors : If you are pleading guilty and there are no major aggravating factors don't bother. I did and it cost me 600 for a fat bloke with bad breath to turn up (late). He Googled the guidelines and then told me he thought my ban was " harsh". I spent probably 3 hours collating and sending my info to them and he had none of it when he turned up. He even lost my financial info sheet I completed so I had to do it again.

Letters to magistrates : Pointless. I sent in about 6 and still got the guidline ban.

Insurance : If you are on a joint policy take yourself off as it could invalidate your partner's insurance if you don't BUT check the no claims policy. I didn't and now I have no no claims as they transferred them to my wife. I queried this and they said that's their policy. If you have a single policy many insurance companies will hold the no claims allowance for 2 years.Get a letter when you cancel to prove your no claims when you reinsure.

Medical. If you have to have one you don't have to use the doctor they specify on their letter. That will be the nearest one to you but if you want a sooner appt call DVLA and ask for other surgeries. You can't book and then cancel if you find a better option so look around first if you need to. DVLA will also fax your letter to any of their surgeries to speed up the process. You can't book unless the surgery have the letter aswell as you.

Download the medical questionaire that the doctor will use and make sure all questions are ASKED correctly. My doctor misinterpreted a question and I had to call DVLA to sort out the mess. Even though you sign the form you can get notes added to your file by phone.

I abstained from alcohol for about 4 weeks after 30 years fairly heavy drinking and passed the medical. I didn't bother with medichecks in the end as it was about 100. I just stopped drinking for a month.

Finally the most important thing I learned is you have to forgive yourself. The guilt associated with this is in many cases a huge burden. You have to forgive yourself in order to move on. My life changed for the better once I learned this.

Good luck to everyone at whatever stage they are. I'm not going to do the don't drink and drive thing. We are all adults and we all know it can ruin yours and others lives.