Drunk and in charge Scotland

Convicted Driver Insurance


New member
I've just realised I put my old mobile number in when I started my thread before. I'm not sure if anyone would try to call, but the old number just goes straight to voicemail that I can't check. Anyway I'm starting again and putting the right number in, sorry for being a bit dopey.

OK so here's the situation.

I was out for a drink with an acquaintance intending to stay at his hotel when we had a falling out. No longer able to stay I left and found myself outside at 5am with no option but to drive home having had what seemed to be quite a few (he was pouring) or sleep in the car. Although I was only 1.7 miles from home I couldn't walk, having a ruptured ligament in my knee, I couldn't afford to stay at the hotel (don't know if they'd even have given me a room at that hour) and needless to say buses or taxis weren't running and I could hardly expect anyone to answer the phone to get a lift. Given the choice, and being a normal, decent human being I knew not to drive and decided to sleep in the car and get a lift in the morning. I got in the car, put the keys in and turned them to position 2 in order to open the window and over the course of 15 minutes proceeded to have a couple of cigarettes, before going to sleep. I was woken another 15 minutes later by half a dozen police officers who proceeded to arrest me for being 'drunk in charge'. On being taken to the station I provided a reading of 147 micrograms alcohol/breath. To be clear nobody asserts I had any intention at that time to drive, I hadn't turned on the engine or done anything else to indicate I wanted to, and I've been charged under the RTA '88 Section 5.1.b on the basis that at some random future point I might have driven while still drunk.

Now being familiar with the various campaigns I'm well aware of the law on actually driving while drunk and that you shouldn't drive the following day either, but was quite unaware that in doing the decent thing and not driving I'd be putting myself in a position to be prosecuted. In hindsight I should've thrown my keys in a bush or something, but in my ignorance I had no idea at the time that I needed to furnish myself with a defence against a crime I was ignorant of - not that that's an excuse of course.

I've never had so much as a stern look from a police officer before so needless to say the whole experience had me reeling. When I got to court I took the duty solicitor who got me bailed (not guilty plea), and when he asked if he'd just put through the Legal Aid paperwork I just agreed zombie fashion, still pretty shocked by the whole affair. Two months and some chasing later and I speak to him again, and he tells me that I have no defence and should just change my plea at the interim diet. I've always believed the legal system functioned on some level of common sense, and it doesn't sit right with me that someone who chose to do the right thing would be punished. I could've driven home at 5am easily if I'd wanted but I didn't, so the idea I'd be responsible then but throw caution and morals to the wind later - when the roads were busy and the chances of an accident or being caught were multiplied - seems to fly in the face of reason, even if I was the sort of person who'd chance it. I had no job to get to or any other call to drive beyond getting home, which I could have easily done by calling friends or family. I also suffer from severe anxiety, which makes it hard to drive at the best of times as I'm afraid something bad will happen. There's not much worse than being in an accident or caught drinking and driving so apart from the fact that I categorically wouldn't do it on principal there's arguably little chance I'd have been able to due to my illness.

My solicitor says I have no defence, which may be true as it's basically my word and common sense/my medical condition that might suggest otherwise, but I really don't feel comfortable with him so I don't know what to think. He literally said "hand on heart you probably would have woken up and driven wouldn't you?" - which I find appalling both as an attitude and as a suggestion at all. He also stated that if I plead guilty it would be an automatic 12 month ban and a fine, with my car forfeited. I asked about mitigating factors (I'm dependant on my car for treatment for the anxiety and to care for my 72 y/o disabled mother) but he cut me off saying there were none. I gather that penalty is actually for drinking and driving and that mitigation can be considered, but he was having none of it. Regardless I don't feel I'd be served by a solicitor who clearly thinks I'm guilty as sin and dismisses any possible mitigation without even hearing what it is.

Now I've no idea what to do. I don't feel that in good conscience I can plead guilty to something I wouldn't do, and even if that's the best strategic move I've no confidence that my solicitor is best placed to argue for mitigation when it seems he thinks I'm just chancing it. I'm minded of the case of Kristopher Buchanan who appears to have been acquitted on no more than his word he wouldn't have driven, but as a layman I can't find the details so I don't know if that's really the case. I can't comprehend how a law that is intended to deter people from drinking and driving can be used to punish someone who demonstrably took the decision not to - more than one person has commented that I'd have been better off if I'd driven home as I wouldn't have been sat there when the police arrived, and it makes me sick to think that our justice system could precipitate a situation like that.

Any advice would be most appreciated.
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