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Drunk in Charge

Published: 25th September 2012 at 09:10:18

Drunk In Charge   Discretionary Disqualification  Exceptional Hardship

D. Was consuming alcohol in his car in a supermarket car park after a long journey of some 250 miles. He was suffering cramp in his legs. He had consumed 1 and ¾ cans of strong lager. He was going to walk home from the supermarket.

His licence had 3 relevant points on it, if you reach 12 points you will be disqualified from driving for 6 months unless the court find Exceptional Hardship,  after hearing sworn evidence.

The police arrived and required a roadside test which provided a reading of 48 (13 over the legal limit in breath). At the Police station D. refused to comply with the intoxiliser procedure and was charged with Failing to Provide a breath sample (Guideline sentence 18 months, 2 years Disqualification for a driving refusal).

It was clear to us that this was a case of being 'In Charge' of the vehicle and not a case of driving. When guilty of failing to Provide in an 'In Charge' case disqualification is Discretionary but 10 points must go on the licence if you are not disqualified. The car park was clearly a public place.

D. Was advised to plead 'Guilty' and we would mitigate to try and save his licence.

1. The court indicated they would exercise their discretion in favour of not disqualifying for the 'In Charge' offence and instead imposed 10 points.

HOWEVER, this would not save the day because with 3 points already D. would then have 13 points and be looking to receive a ban of 6 months under the Totting Up provisions.

2. Evidence was called to show Exceptional Hardship - that travelling away to work and between sites with heavy and essential tools there was no other way of keeping his employment but to drive. Loss of his licence would lead to loss of the family home as the mortgage could not be paid, thus causing suffering to the family as a whole and not just D.

Exceptional Hardship was found and D. retained his licence.

NB. D. cannot use the same excuse again if further points are imposed in the next 3 years. He retains his licence but with 13 points, any more points and disqualification seems inevitable.


D says 'thanks for your defence in my case today.  I think you are an absolute credit to your profession and I really appreciate all you did for me.  Credit where it's due - you were brilliant!'