Thousands of motorists are being reminded of the rules around drink driving ahead of the hectic Christmas party season.

After years of terrifying anti-drink driving advertising campaigns, few people are unaware of the dangers of getting behind the wheel after a couple of drinks and the possible legal consequences. This most serious of the drink driving offences, known as DR10, carries a driving ban, fine, and in some cases a Community Order and a prison term of up to six months.

Fewer people, however, are aware of the DR50 offence, where a motorist could face a £2,500 fine and 10 points on their license without ever failing a breathalyser test. For this offence, the driver is described as being “in charge of a vehicle while unfit through drink”, but their fitness is decided by the arresting officer rather than a test that shows their blood alcohol level. As 12 driving penalty points will result in a ban, defence lawyers will argue that a 10 point penalty for an offence based on the opinion of an officer is a harsh and unreasonable punishment that would impact a person’s ability to work. However, the sentencing guidelines remain unchanged.

Whilst there are regular stories of hotshot lawyers managing to get various driving offences thrown out of court on legal technicalities, not everyone has the resources to rely on a team of drink driving lawyers to help with their legal defence. The DR50 offence has been highlighted as part of an effort by authorities and social groups to convince motorists to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards booze and driving. Mark Tongue of Select Car Leasing explains: “It can be tempting, particularly in the height of Christmas, to enjoy a drink before heading home…But if that drink makes you impaired in any way, even though you may not be above the legal limit, you could still face heavy consequences.”

On average around 179 people are still caught drink driving each day in December, according to police statistics. And whilst the government’s THINK! campaign has used both fear and humour over the years to try and stop people getting behind the wheel after a few drinks, the number of people injured from drink-related accidents has remained stubbornly unchanged over the last decade. By pushing for people to take a zero tolerance policy towards booze and driving, campaign groups are hoping that less people this year are tempted to have one last drink before they go home after the Christmas party.

Many people fear they will miss out on the Christmas festivities if they don’t drink during the party, but with a growing list highly-rated non-alcoholic beers now available and the growth in popularity of non-alcoholic spirits like Seedlip, this year is the best time ever to avoid alcohol completely.

The reminder of the rules surrounding drink driving comes after television personality Katie Price was banned from driving for a fourth time in two years after failing to inform police who was driving her vomit-covered pink Range Rover when it crashed into a hedge last October. Price had blamed the crash on her mental health struggles and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, officers at the scene reported the 41-year-old mum of five had bloodshot eyes and was slurring her words, and was twice the legal limit when arrested in the early hours of October 10, 2018, after a boozy night out with boyfriend.

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