Is drink driving a criminal offence?
Yes, under section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
In the UK, if you’re found to be driving – or attempting to drive – with excess alcohol in your blood, breath or urine, you’re breaking the law.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the limits are:
- Blood: 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres
- Breath: 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres
- Urine: 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine
In Scotland, the limits are:
- Blood: 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood
- Breath: 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath
- Urine: 67 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine
A drink driving offence is a summary-only offence, meaning it must be dealt with in a Magistrates’ Court, though some of the most serious offences are treated by the Crown Court.
As drink driving is a criminal offence, in the vast majority of cases this would lead to a criminal record. And even once your conviction is spent, it can still be detected on security checks, making it harder to get employment, travel to certain countries or get car insurance.