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Can you go to prison for drink driving?

Drink driving is a criminal offence. Depending on the severity of the offence and the level of alcohol in your system, you could face a prison sentence; the court will also take into account both aggravating and mitigating factors, as well as whether you have any previous convictions.

  • Up to 3 months in prison for being in charge of a vehicle while unfit through drink or above the legal limit
  • Up to 6 months in prison for driving, or attempting to drive, while unfit through drink or above the legal limit. Or, for refusing to provide a sample of urine, blood or breath for analysis when requested.
  • Up to 14 years in prison for death caused by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol.

To be prosecuted for drink driving, your blood, breath or urine sample must prove to be over the legal limit when tested. If you’re arrested and subsequently found to be below the limit, you’ll be released without charge.

Drink driving offences are taken to the Magistrates’ Court, though the most serious cases may be heard in the Crown Court. In addition to a prison sentence, you may also be handed hefty fines and a driving ban, while any car insurance premiums you face in the future are likely to be far higher.

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