Help about possibility of prison

tulip125

Member
Hi there,

My sister has been charged with drink driving and has court next week. She has no previous driving convictions or any legal convictions at all (she's never been in trouble in her life in fact.) However she's been suffering with anxiety & depression & alcohol addiction for a year or so now (all is well documented) and unfortunately a week or so ago she drove home very drunk. She wasn't arrested in the car, in fact someone had reported her for driving recklessly & the police came to the house and arrested her after she'd got home. We have instructed a solicitor but they have said because of her breath test being so high (it was 192 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres - so over 4 x the legal limit) that its possible they could send her to prison. We've been told its very unlikely as its her first offence, nobody was hurt, she's pleading guilty etc and has documented problems) and that its more likely a huge fine, ban and at worst community service. But I want someone to honestly tell me if they think there is a likely hood of prison time or if anyone has been through something similar where they have been very much over the limit like this? Thanks in advance

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Anxiousannie

Active member
I was in a very similar position, high reading, first offence. I got a solicitor to support me, typed out all the factors leading up to the event and pleaded guilty. I got two letters of character references from professionals who know me we.. I was given an £800 fine, £75 costs, 22 months ban reduced by 5 months for undertaking the drink drive course. Very unlikely to get a prison sentence , but a solicitor helped me not get community service. Hope this helps. Write to the court beforehand to say you are going to plead guilty.
 

craig121

Well-known member
Hi there,

My sister has been charged with drink driving and has court next week. She has no previous driving convictions or any legal convictions at all (she's never been in trouble in her life in fact.) However she's been suffering with anxiety & depression & alcohol addiction for a year or so now (all is well documented) and unfortunately a week or so ago she drove home very drunk.
Moving fwd it's best she works closely with her Doctor in regaining her Licence immediately, the DVLA are going to require atleast 1 years full abstinence from what you have stated, since she's going to be off-road (banned) atleast 1 year they can run simultaneously if you get the drift but regular appointments with Doctor and abstinence is a must from now
 

price1367

TTC Group
That is a very high reading, which will attract a ban of 29-36 months for a first offence.
The guidelines also indicate a prison sentence, starting at 12 weeks, but the guidelines also go down as far as a large community penalty.
She definitely needs a solicitor to try to pursuade the magistrates to go for the bottom end of their guidelines. To help with this she needs to show what she has done herself to try and address her problems BEFORE court.
 

DonkeyKong

Well-known member
If it helps... I blew 124. That is 3.5x the limit. 192 is 5.5x legal limit.
Very similar circumstances - never been in trouble, decades of clean driving, one bad decision due to anxiety and depression, didn't hurt anyone or anything, wasn't actually driving, although didn't have any alcoholism/dependence. Everyone on here, the police who arrested me, my solicitor and the pre-court probation officer all told me prison was unlikely... and I did't get custodial sentence. But I was told I was very close since my reading was *way* above what they normally deal with. I got 200 hours CS, 14 week DiD program,10 RAR days, court/victim costs, and 30 months ban.
I cannot see how she couldn't get at least what I got, plus some, but this could still be just even more CS hours, rather than prison. The CS hours replaced the fine. I was expecting the huge fine, but didn't get it.
Before court, I had self admitted into a alcohol concern program, got a report from the Dr about anxiety issues, and instructed the duty Solicitor from the night of the arrest to represent me on the day. I did my own apology letter, and didn't get any references as I didn't want to involve anyone else in my stupidity. Solicitor was with me all day, and guided me around the whole process. It was the best £350 I ever spent.
Good luck.
 

TipsyNurse

Well-known member
The normal advice is, absent of any defence, fall on your sword, be apologetic and make it clear that you have learnt your lesson and will never do it again.

Prison with DD is usually used when someone has shown reckless disregard and is likely to drink drive again if they are not imprisoned. Although magistrates have the option of prison simply for a high reading, it is unlikely they would take that option unless they actually think the driver will DD again.

As they are at risk of being imprisoned they can get free legal representation in court, although of course because there is a real, if small, risk of imprisonment paying a solicitor may well be worth if for the reassurance of having more time with them.
 

Woozle47

Active member
Thanks so much for all of your replies!
Make sure she has a solicitor. Come the court day - it's unlikely they will ask her to speak (apart from her name, age address) but important her solicitor does their homework & puts over a strong sympathetic case. I would say prison is unlikely but with such a high reading expect at least a 2 year driving ban & a big fine. With you saying it's a first offence acts in her favour but unfortunately won't avoid punishment. Good luck
 

tulip125

Member
Make sure she has a solicitor. Come the court day - it's unlikely they will ask her to speak (apart from her name, age address) but important her solicitor does their homework & puts over a strong sympathetic case. I would say prison is unlikely but with such a high reading expect at least a 2 year driving ban & a big fine. With you saying it's a first offence acts in her favour but unfortunately won't avoid punishment. Good luck
she has a great solicitor and they've put together a folder with letter from GP about her issues with alcohol and depression, as well as letter to the judge from my sister and her AA tick sheet to show she's been going 2-3 times a week. Hoping they take all of that into account and the fact its the first time she's ever been in trouble. I think her solicitor is going to push for high community service order but were kind of expecting at least a suspended sentence. Thanks again :)
 

Anxiousannie

Active member
That's what I did and they did look on it very favourably as you will have demonstrated a willingness to get better and make an effort to present yourself well. A community order is not so bad as they do try to place you somewhere preferable to you getting better. Good luck x
 

C J 1980

Member
I was arrested and blew 113 which put me at more than three times the legal drink drive limit. I was banned for 28 months and I've since done my reduction course that reduces it to just over 21 months.

It was the first time I ever crossed swords with the police and the courts in this country. I've never even had a caution or a fine from the police and up until my arrest I had been driving for twenty years with no penalty points.

There were no aggravating factors in my arrest and I actually researched what my punishment would be prior to the court case so I wasn't really surprised at the outcome. The sentencing guidelines for magistrates are defined by the alcohol reading. Anything above 87.5 puts you in a High Risk Offender (HRO) category which passes the threshold for the intervention of the probation service.

When I appeared in court, my case was adjourned so I could speak to the woman from probation in a private consultation room. She basically told me I had two options of either community service or a night time curfew as punishment when sentence was passed and the magistrates could increase the hours or curfew length if I could not afford a huge fine due to losing my job. I went for CS as a curfew was too much of an impact to my domestic circumstances and I have reservations about the electronic equipment G4S use. I have known people get arrested for breaches to their curfew just because the tagging equipment was faulty.

Eventually we reconvened in the court room and the probation officer read out her report that she had been scribbling down during our private meeting. The magistrates then passed sentence and on top of my ban I had to do 150 hours community service and pay court costs of £85 and a further surcharge of £85. I didn't actually get a fine which was a relief - I think my guilty plea at the first opportunity and the loss of my job went in my favour to avoid a fine.

I was not particularly impressed with the probation case worker I was assigned to but I'm going to keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. I was sent to a local community centre for my CS that was half an hours walk from my home. I was quite fortunate that I didn't have to go to the probation office everyday and go out in the chain gang fun bus with prolific offenders such as burglars or domestic violence offenders.

Generally the only people being sent to the community centre were other convicted drink drivers and people convicted of benefit fraud. As I had already resigned from my job, the probation service had stated I had to do Monday to Thursday every week until the hours were completed. My day at the centre ran from 8.30am - 3.30pm which was seven hours but I was given an extra half hour on my card to compensate not having a lunch break. As I was determined to get my hours over and done with, I went in on Friday, Saturday and Sunday aswell and I had completed all 150 hours in just under three weeks.

The other drink drivers I met were all on their second bans. One lad had given a reading of 44 but was banned for 3 years which is a minimum ban length second time round within 11 years of the first ban. Again a repeat offender is classed as a HRO and involves probation so he was given 200 hours. Luckily his ban had not affected his job in a engineering factory but the down side was that he could only commit to one day a week which meant it would take him over six months to complete his hours.

Another lady, I met doing CS was a chronic alcoholic who had crashed her car on a busy road junction. Even though she wasn't injured, the cops had to take her straight to the hospital and she gave blood samples that showed she was more than four times the limit. This was also her second drink driving offence and she got a 50 month ban with 100 hours community service and a 6 month prison sentence suspended for two years.

As both of these fellow drink drivers were on their second ban, they were exempt from being able to do the drink driving reduction course which means they will both have to serve the full terms of their bans. The community service I did was quite enjoyable and relaxed. The community centre I went to each day put me mainly in a kitchen preparing food for a lunch time menu assisting the chef, then I worked in the cafe area taking menu orders, serving customers, taking payments and clearing up afterwards. I also set up the rooms for things like corporate functions, Slimming World, AA meetings and a languages class. The time went quite quickly and it was enjoyable and I did have a laugh at times with the other people who worked full time at the centre.

I think the purpose of my contributing to this thread is just to ease the minds of people worrying about prison. I had the same misgivings myself but magistrates will not send you to prison for your first drink driving offence unless there are major aggravating factors such as causing serious injury to others, leaving the scene of an accident or fighting with police officers were you would probably have been charged with additional offences.

Even repeat drink drivers are not necessarily imprisoned. The lady subject to the 50 month ban I mentioned crashed into other motorists after ignoring a red light and other people were injured. She had only been back driving after the end of the first ban for just a few months when this happened but even though she got a suspended prison sentence she still retained her liberty because of her remorse and the fact she was struggling badly with alcohol.

I hope my own experience of drink driving and giving a high reading as been of some use and comfort to anyone reading this thread who is worried about prison.
 

RSC

Member
Two DD offences within ten years mean an automatic three year ban and a HRO medical before licence may be re-issued.

Sentences depend on the magistrates/jurors. One magistrate was determined to send me to prison for a reading of 121, despite no prior criminal record for anything at all. (Yes we are not supposed to know these things). Edited to say yes this is within the Sentencing Guidelines but very severe. So, on the vaguely upside, 200 hours "unpaid work" could have been worse.

Anybody is entitled to apply for early return of their licence. If banned for up to three years, after two years. For other lengths, I understand it is after half the ban length. Abstinence terms vary due to how people may have been medically defined. Am sure others will be able to provide more details.

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